Wednesday, November 12, 2014

In the mean time...

Ok... so... we didn't get a post up last week or on Monday... Lots going on unfortunately not much in a place to do a fun post about.

Lisa is working on dissertation stuff as well as working and with the holidays it's big time for her calling with music. I'm trying to get a novella out by the end of the year as well as the workshop and working on the house...

And that's where the "fun" happens.. been waiting for saw parts for about three weeks. And the temperature when we got  up this morning was three (3) not 30 not 33 not 83 but three. It's a  good thing I'm trying to focus on writing right now because there is a limit to what kind of home repair and improvement you can do when the temperature is three.

In brighter news we got a new Assistant Ward Clerk for Finance (AWCF) in our ward two Sundays ago and I'm happy to say last Sunday he and our new counselor in the bishopric were counting tithing and my new assistant clerk was actually helping me train the new counselor! Still a lot to go for both but a really really good sign! My old AWCF isn't exactly fading away either he's being ordained a high priest and is the new assistant to the high priests group leader.

With some of the changes in the ward some folks have wondered if I'm not frustrated at having been in and out of the clerks office for the last 14 years and not having been called to the bishopric. Answer... NOPE! I'm right where I need to be. When our new bishop was called last year I was given not only a full new bishopric but two new assistant clerks to deal with. That's five out of seven people in the bishopric brand new (well the bishop did spend a few months as a counselor then a year on the high council but still...) and the executive secretary had only been in a few months. This time around as clerk is a lot more about teaching and leading as a clerk rather than just serving and doing the work.

I've also spent a year in that span as an assistant to the high priest group leader and then a year as the high priest group leader. If I'm called to be in the bishopric I'll answer the call. If not... well between having been high priest group leader and working in Psycho Social Rehab I've handled my share of 1:00 AM crisis calls. As is I'm in a position where I get to work with people in small groups or one on one (my preferred modis operandi) and I have really gotten to see men and women stand taller and do more than they ever thought they could. I am a servant of the Lord and a tool in his hands. I am serving where he has asked me to and that's where I need to be.

'Nuff said?

Hopefully next week we get to say more about some cool projects... so till then...

{um wait! Patrick you never do one of these without pictures...} True. I can't stand it either...

The Himalaya is coming!

(Now what that means is... well, wait, read and find out!)

Till next time God bless. And remember: First you do what you have to do. Then you do what you can do. Then you do what you can't do. (St Francis)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Post Conference Post

Lisa and I spent most of the last week at a conference (she was co chair for the conference...) so we didn't get a lot done here in the last week (That's also why she didn't get around to posting last Monday...I promise I'll bug her to write about the conference next week).

It was a really good conference (2nd highest attendance ever!) and they are going to miss her on the board next year. But, tough! We do have other things going on! (remember I'm not doing too much bragging about the conference because I want her to write about it next week.)

While Lisa was running a conference I found a very interesting glass and enamel studio. I ate at some very fun restaurants. And I got some good writing done. Most of the writing on the trip was for a novel and a novella which are interrelated. I have some non fiction going but I really do like doing fiction (at what point doing non fiction would I get to use the phrase 'buzzard bait'? If I can get it squared away I would really like to have the novella ready to launch in December (I know... planned publication date... scary)

For those who are interested here's a link for the enamel and glass studios... (they're really in the same place but apparently have separate web sites

I also ran into this 'little guy' the pen is for scale

This is a piece of green quartz that I'm going to have to cut into two (due to a crack) but plan on carving. It's no surprise that it took me so long to find this one... I thought I was looking for a piece of fluorite! It was a surprise to find it there (there were only two pieces and the store didn't know they had them!).

The bench is up. And now has 2/3 of the major tools in place the swap top saw and grinder and...

my new drill press (that apparently really want's to be sideways in the blog (sorry :-(  ).

The new uber band saw and some diamond core drills are on the way; so hopefully by my next post we will have some really fun stuff to show.

Well, till next time, remember if you wake up next to your boy friend/girl friend/spouse/whatever in an alternate dimension it might not be his/her fault (well, the first time at least!). Fiction writing, its fantastic!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Wall done!

That's right! Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls I have officially finished work on that @#$@#@%@#$!!! wall. Now I can see about putting in the workbench and drill press and saw. Still lots of things to do on the house (I have two electrical plugs that I need to fix, at least one light fixture to fix, I should think about new lights for the new work bench, plumbing, calk windows, paint trim...). The scarey thing on this list is there is a "bedroom" in the basement that really needs new flooring (that's not the scarey part)... Lisa and I went to Lowe's to look at options and we actually agreed on the flooring on the first shot (that's the scary part) and it was affordable (now it's really scary). Well more on the house as projects get done and new toys get in.

In the mean time I have officially determined that I can't take myself anywhere... without rock hounding that is...

 I was at the pet store of all places when I came upon this little "gem". That's a Leather-man tool next to it for scale.

He cost me 2.99 plus tax... He's a mahogany obsidian that washed down a river, got scooped up for fish tank rock and now is in my rock pile. Is he a carver? Is he destined to be cabs? I don't know and I won't until I get a good idea and/or my bigger saw gets here (Rather not break him if I don't  have to... Obsidian is volcanic glass so the old chisel method is not the way to go here).

Also on the rock front... Anyone remember that  rock activity at the family reunion... Got some in the fine grade tumble right a few other things in the works so it will probably not be finished for my next post, but hopefully I'll have some pretties from that bunch a couple posts from now : )

At this time of year Lisa and I are spending at least a couple hours an evening with our backs to each other and not talking. No... no... we're not mad at each other I've got writing projects in every stage from planning/research; to first draft; to revision; to submitted for publication (not to mention two blogs to post to) and Lisa's got her dissertation; at least two conference presentations (that I know of!); a book chapter to work on (I think she's on her last go round before publication...), a blog or two of her own; and a class she's teaching. So, we're doing a lot of talking with our fingers at the moment.

Well I'm leaving it here for tonight... Lisa should be posting next week and if I'm not back in two... well... my head probably exploded (hey, you try reading publishing contracts!!!)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Things are calming down...are things calming down?

I have been the slacker in not taking my turn in writing on the blog.  Hopefully things will be calming down a little bit and I can get my voice added to the mix.

(I honestly don't think things will calm down, but I can hope.)

Last week I was at the Quality Matters Conference in Baltimore.  I gave two presentations - one on our Introduction to Online Teaching course and another on the delivery side of online teaching.  The second presentation was a bit of surprise, (I had been planning on a short "pop-up" session, but discovered it was on the schedule as a 50 min presentation first thing Wednesday morning!) All, in all, it turned out fine, and I even learned (or relearned) some things about myself as a presenter.  I won't bore you with the details of the presentations, but I will show off the presentation for the first one.  (A special thanks to Marisa for helping me with the magnifying lens graphics!)

(The presentation is not wanting to embed, so you will have to click on this link to open the presentation.)

I did not see much of Baltimor, but here is a picture of the U.S.S. Constellation docked in the harbor.  I didn't have time to actually tour the ship, but it was cool to see it from the outside.

Patrick has been doing an amazing job patching our foundation.  This last wall has been the worst, using lots of concrete and flinging shrapnel, in the form of rocks and bits of nails.  The best part of this last wall is the Gru shaped patch. (Can you see him?  He is the lighter gray.)

I mentioned a hope of things calming down, but with work, writing for dissertation, trying to get a committee together for the dissertation, re-writing based on the feedback I will hopefully get, the NWeLearn conference in two weeks, the usual things with work and church, it most likely will not really calm down.  I will say that with how intense this past summer was, I am feeling more calm now than I was just 3 months ago.  It is all about perspective, right?

Something that has definitely helped was this past weekend with General Conference.  I really enjoy conference and am grateful for the ease at which we can watch it from home.  I like being able to talk about things with Patrick, which would annoy others if we went to a church building or down to Salt Lake City.  Perhaps one year we will go down to the conference center, but for now I like having Patrick's biscuits and gravy or sourdough pancakes during the morning sessions.  I also knit the entire weekend.  Some of the projects I worked on can't be shared just yet, but a recently finished project is a scarf for Patrick.

As I have a great interest in technology, it is amazing all the pieces that come together to make General Conference happen.  It is transmitted via radio, television, satellite, and internet; and it is translated (live!) into 94 languages.  And for the first time, several of the speakers spoke in their native tongue with subtitles put on the screen in the conference center and the internet, radio, and television broadcasts switched to the English translator.  As we are working on closed captioning for the videos at work, I know how much time, effort, skills, and technology is needed to accomplish this.

In addition to all the broadcasting, and live translation, the entire conference is made available online, almost immediately afterwards. So, if you want to check it out you can  go to (that will default to English, but you can pick any of the other languages on the top right!)  David A. Bednar is always one of my favorites - he is towards the end of the Saturday afternoon session.

Well, that is it for now.  Hopefully, you'll hear from me again in two weeks.

Monday, September 29, 2014

backwards and forwards

First up, a correction and final report...last week's reported bees were actually hornets (I did see a couple of bees in the area leading to the misidentification, but the nest I dealt with was hornets (they are also now dead...))

We go directly from the dead bugs to the project that's been "dead on" bugging me! I actually got the doorway removed and that part of the wall fixed this week, and that bought me to this weeks philosophical moment... the inverse iceberg principle! We've already talked about the iceberg principle, basically for any project there is more to do than what you see... Well, the inverse iceberg principle is that sometimes there is less under the surface than you think... in this case the studs between the foundation wall and the door frame were less solid than the door frame (literally only one nail was left not rusted through and the bottom of the post had rotted). Once I got the door frame out, I removed the post with one hand. The old door frame looked like an early pre-hung door, unfortunately the bottom edge was actually under the cement of the floor and the frame didn't survive removal. So, I'm either building a new frame of buying a new pre-hung door (since I could use this door to replace one on  the outside workshop I'm leaning toward buy a new one). speaking of the door frame here's what I found under the door frame and post...

The little room has a separate slab floor that was poured at a different time from the rest of the basement. That bottom layer is actually dirt...

Here's the thing about the inverse iceberg principle, when it comes to projects the inverse principle proves the iceberg principle (there's more work than you see because there is less structure than you see!).

So, I got the doorway out of the way and did the cement work. The floor is now solid there and, if I drew a nose on it, the repair looks like the outline of Grue from Despicable Me (which is OK, because certain people (Lisa) have called me Grue...)

Speaking of Lisa, she has safely arrived in Baltimore and will be doing two conference presentations this week. Next week I'm planning on having her report on the conference and why it is better to order blue crab in Baltimore than in Pocatello.

Ok, so nothing uber exciting this time, but that was this week... maybe I'll do a mid week report with something cooler... in the mean time, for those of you  who haven't met Grue (or those who think he's funny)

Have a great week

Monday, September 22, 2014


Ok... so... the cement work that I said was going down two weeks ago... well it's happening later this week... this time for sure. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls with the help of weather and these so called humans, didn't get the cement work done as planned, but it is coming.

I actually did get the demo of the wall started, then I discovered that the folks that put the HVAC in decided the top of the door frame was an effective way to support the HVAC line, so I had to stop and get a hanger for that... weather and drama ensued and it's going to happen this week.

Two other pieces of sad news... the weather issues included an early freeze that took out the tomato and pepper plants. (Luckily I already have plenty of cayennes drying :) .

As an additional part of the fun I had a run in with a beehive today while trying to cut the lawn... five stings, no anaphylaxis... Vengeance will be mine! (actually everything is in place for vengeance I'm just waiting for first thing in the morning where low light and low temp will have the bees at their least active)

{um Patrick... you do posts with pictures, where are the pictures} Tired of looking at the wall... The above is all the fame the bees get, but yes there are pictures, and a shop experiment of the week!

Back in the good old days you could walk along the beach and find beach glass, pieces of bottles (and better yet glass fishing floats) that had been broken and worn by the sand. Unfortunately as time has moved on  less glass is being used and more people are picking up trash on beaches, so there is less beach glass to find (oh, and I don't live anywhere near a beach!) So, last week I set out to create "beach" glass with my tumbler.

This is some of the first batch... The process works and I'm working on improving it.

Now if you are interested (crazy?) enough to do this you'll need some tools. I've already mentioned the tumbler (see previous posts for info on tumblers and silicon carbide grit) and you'll want some course grit (I use 60/90 split grit for this).

You'll want some other tools too...

Safety gear is a must! And no I'm not kidding with the face shield and goggles. Shrapnel constantly drives scientists and engineers nuts because it just doesn't follow the same "laws" of physics as the rest of us! And we will be making shrapnel. In fact meet our shrapnel makers!

The five gallon bucket contains as much shrapnel as possible but some will get out the top. And yes that is a good old "daddy class persuader" my eight pound sledge hammer (note if your man hood (or woman hood I don't discriminate!) is threatened you could use the 16 pounder, but I want to work a little more precise and detailed than that ( and sledge hammer in the same sentence...???))

Now collect some glass bottles to put in your bucket.

Remember the total glass we need for one load will fit in a quart container (for a 3lb tumbler), but you might want to break more bottles to get some variety in color and shape... Now release some frustration with that hammer! While you're doing that try to make some interesting shaped pieces (sorry we don't have a definitive size answer yet... that depends on your tumbler and what you want to make...)

 There we go, some nice broken glass... now wash that shrapnel out of your hair... and off your cloths... mop the floor... now we can load some in the tumbler barrel. For the first batch I filled 2/3 -3/4 full and used a standard charge of grit. I checked it after one day and ran it for another two.

I'm reasonably pleased with the outcome... but why not experiment more (since I have more glass and all...)

Doing a little research and thinking I decided to try to thicken the slurry, so for batch two I ran three tablespoons of grit and six tablespoons of sugar for two days...

Not really pleased... the grinding wasn't as good (I think one day on the first run did better), so I tossed it in again with more grit and I'm running it till I change the other barrel I'm running, on Saturday...

Some of batch one already has projects waiting and I'm thinking about other ways to play with this: varying time and grit as well as dragging my diamond saws in the mix to control the shape of the pieces that are going in.u
What will I do with it? Well, sculpture and jewelry with brass, bronze, copper (regular and enameled), stainless steel and aluminum (BA and anodized) wire (possible some chain mail in the mix). If I find some stuff that's really worthy I have some silver laying around...

In other news... we are going to pre forgive Lisa for not posting next week (come on, we can forgive her being compelled to give a 50 minute conference presentation at 8:00 AM is punishment enough!). So, I'll take next week and make her talk about her trip when she gets back...

Until next time remember... attack at dawn, that way if things go bad you haven't wasted the whole day!

Update: 9/23/14 Nailed the buggers! In a predawn strike I dumped a whole can of spray on them... No damage to our forces, battle damage assessment on the enemy to be carried out later today (Note: for any NSA/KGB/what ever other forces of paranoia read this I'm talking about stinging insects in my back yard not people! GEEZ! get over yourselves!)

Monday, September 8, 2014

the iceburg principle... or... sometimes you don't see it comming

Ok, so, I've admitted that the wall/workbench/saw project would have complications I didn't expect (by the way the cut down the wall, fix the wall, put the wall back up thing goes down this week....); however, at no point did I expect my house to throw rocks at me!

I'm working on cutting out a crack with my trusty angle grinder so I can fill it with a repair compound... the crack goes just past this rock in the wall and...


It turns out the rock went under the surface... The angle grinder caught it and... Zoom Bang! It goes ballistic! Now, some of you have called me paranoid for wearing a face shield over safety glasses when I run that thing, but this would not be the first time I've had to deal with angle grinder shrapnel! I forgot the iceberg principle, things can be bigger than the part we see. This also applies to jobs, callings, stupid articles you submit for publication (sent that in too, but it may be a while before I hear back (that said I'll hear back tomorrow...)). Fortunately this iceberg didn't rip into anything important, but it does serve as a reminder about safety gear.

Also this weekend we went to the fair... if we had the space I found two sheep that are kind of my sort (they were trying to escape their pen!), a bunny that looked more like a cotton ball with a face, and...

Ok, so I officially can't go anywhere without doing something involving rocks or metal... 

I think they qualify for an iceberg post as you could find those colors in a glacier. They are calcite and destined for some carvings.

One of the big draws was the art competitions including fine art (that's where the sculpture is), needle craft (Duh!), and hobbies/crafts (jewelry).  Found some neat stuff, decided I have to enter next year (I can take these guys...) and discovered some people are rrreeeaaalllyyy obsessed with cake decorating!

Breaking this point in the post Lisa gave me permission to pick on her for not posting next week... but given she has a book chapter do next Monday, a dissertation prospectus that needed to get done and it was the first two weeks of the fall semester (so the campus was struggling to get it's act together) I'm not going to be too critical... Instead I bring you what I've had to do to get Lisa out of work a couple times so far this semester... (and yes I was wearing the costume :p (well, the armor Lisa still won't make me a cloak :-(    ))

Hmmmm, come to think of it I might want to wear the armor when I open up that wall (just in case the house throws more rocks...)

Well, that's it for today and until next time remember... remember... darn it what was I going to say???

Monday, August 25, 2014

Saw this coming...the simple things are always hard...

Ok... so... my week again...
Last time I talked about needing a new saw...
Well, figured out the best saw for my needs. And that's where it all got complicated...

I found a decent price on a water cooled diamond bladed band saw. It also has optional wood and metal cutting blades (just make sure the clean up is done right!). The thing is it will need to stand on something. Lisa had the idea to put it next to the new drill press that is on my shop list. Then, she suggested I get a bench model drill press and mount both on a new workbench...

Space wise the bench should work out, and would give me a spot to move my swap top rock set up away from some other stuff, and give more storage for the hoard of tool boxes and other goodies that crop up. It turns out that some of the motors for the better bench top drill presses equal the power of the ones on a professional stone carving flex shaft (for those not familiar it's a Dremel on steroids (seriously a Dremel with a 1/3 horse motor and flexible shaft attachment)) and cheaper than the floor model that I was looking at. So the budget works...

The problem is that that wall needs a little cement work...
The first part is no problem, but I might as well get to the whole wall while I'm at it... The thing is this wall is the one that we had some water leakage on early on. It hasn't been a problem because we fixed the outside of the wall, fixed the drainage up to the wall and the mangled hose bib that was leaking against the wall, everything but work on the part inside the wall. It hasn't given us any serious problems since and I've had a couple hundred thousand other things to deal with, but now's the time.

The thing is the inside damage really is inside the wall...
As in it is center mass behind where this inside, happily non load bearing, wall buts up against the cement. That means I get to pull out a door and door frame (hinge pictured); pull out the crappy old (rotted at the bottom) 2x4s on the side; fix the cement; put up new 2x4s (I'm going pressure treated, non rotting, can live against cement 2x4s) and then put the door back up. As you can see there are some webs there so some spiders are making a living on something in the area (but the webs are dust covered and not really maintained so the food source may have dried up when I fixed the outside of the wall). By the way this is in a basement back room that is only used for storage I.E. this is not normal housekeeping!

So good news... New toys coming. Bad news... I'm involved in a work on the house adventure of the kind that is never as simple as you think (Er, um... isn't that all of them [Lisa] {Patrick hangs head} Yes, but this one I can already see is more complicated...)

While we're on the subject of crazy things in basements...

We have here a telephone wire (it's 2014 some people reading this aren't used to land lines) and next to it a fixture of mystery: it's ceramic with a circle that would say old light but instead of a screw in it has three blades inside... I have no idea what it is, but since it's not actually attached to anything I'm not worrying about it, I just want to know what it is... The bit of weirdness  is over where the new bench will be and is right in front of another little thing I forgot about.. we have an extra 220 line that ends in a box with a switch (it's safely shut down but could be reactivated if we want to use it (professional checked! I don't mess with that kind of voltage!)). It had been run out through the back wall to a back yard hot tub the last home owners had and was turned off and shut down when they took it out , but I could get a plug mounted on it and have a workshop 220 line... (now I just need $9180 plus shipping and handling and a space for...

A truly ridiculous, but just about the biggest power tool to live in someones home, diamond saw with 36" blade and power feed system! Seriously I have nowhere to put this monster right now... but I still want one! And yes if you get one you need a power feed system... that's a diamond blade it can cut anything, but it's speed is measured in inches per hour and at that rate I don't have the time or patience to shove a two foot long rock into the blade.

Ok, back to reality... We did our version of Titos beef last night... used our first Dragon Cayenne peppers. Definitely hotter that the yellows, and very good!

Back to I can't believe this is really reality... I'm going to be submitting an article for publication this week. So if my next post is completely neurotic I blame the publishers!

Have I put a joke in the post yet? Ok, Two missionaries and the Pope are out fishing...[at this point Lisa shut down the post... See you next week (kidding I shut it down myself, but still see you next week!)]

Update (Tuesday 8/26) I hate being right! (only some times though!) Never quite as simple as you think, but feels good to get stuff done!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Reading, Knitting, Tomatoes, Croutons, and Music

Lest anyone think that I don't have any projects of my own, I thought I would post a picture of at least one of my projects.

But in reality the majority of my time is spent reading.  I have found a topic that I'm excited about for my dissertation, so I am totally interested in the reading.  And when your books talk about things like "mindtools" in the context of problem solving, I think it does "count" for the blog.

So, apart from reading, (which is almost a constant), I knit to keep me sane.  I'm almost 3/4 the way through my (one of my) projects.  This one works well because I only need to keep track of the number of rows, which are easy to count.  This project is for Patrick, and he is looking forward to using it this winter.

I have other projects on my list and in process, which will have to wait for other posts.  I need to get some of them out of the knitting phd (projects half done).  I think Marisa and I might attempt socks when she comes for Thanksgiving!

As you know, we (well Patrick) planted some tomatoes, yellow cayenne peppers and dragon cayenne peppers.  The majority of the yellow cayennes are being dried.  They work great in crockpot meals and are essential for Tito's shredded beef.  We have yet to test the dragon cayenne peppers, as they have taken a bit longer to ripen.  The tomatoes have been amazing, and mostly used in salads.  We have been adding them to make a quick Cesar Salad.  The key to the salad have been the tomatoes and homemade croutons! (Who knew that homemade croutons and tomatoes from the garden would have Patrick asking to have salad with dinner.) (uh....Patrick who?)

And so, I need to get back to that reading stuff and probably some writing as well.  I have realized (again) how important music is to me and recently found this video by the a capella group at BYU called Vocal Point.  They were just beginning when I graduated, but the Men's choir in joined them for this song.  I would go to the Men's Choir concert every semester I could.  I think they do an amazing job with this song, and so I leave you with a short video.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Gonna need a bigger boat...I mean saw!

Picked up some nice rough rock on our last trip to Boise and managed to identify the source for some stuff that we have. We've also hit on a slight problem...

The stuff I want to cut is bigger than my saw blade... working on a couple solutions though. I've pretty much always had stuff bigger than I could cut at the moment, but this is stuff I want to cut right now! So the search is on for bigger saw solutions (yes I could try two passes over the blade but being able to cut it in one pass is better).

Let me show you why I'm all jazzed about this material....

This is a piece of the material I want to cut. This particular one is just about exactly the height of the saw blade. It's petrified wood from the area of Bruno, Idaho. As I understand it the material in this location was limbs that were broken off,washed down river, and then covered with volcanic ash. This scenario creates petrified wood that looks like regular good old drift wood...

right down to the grain pattern in the wood. But, trust me this stuff will destroy any normal wood saw you tried to put it on, it is a real rock. I have a couple projects in mind for this stuff I just have to get it worked down to proper slabs.  Some of it will just barely fit my saw in one pass and some of it is bigger... I have a piece of some different petrified wood we picked up that is definitely too big for this saw (and will probably top out the 10' saw I'm wanting to get). Unfortunately for that piece we'll need not just a new saw but a new 240 volt line to go with it! Those big lapidary saws are no joke power wise...

In the mean time I tested out a new tool this week, a mini disk sander. Not just any mini disk sander (lots of those), but a diamond system mini disk sander.

These little guys go in your Dremel/micro motor/flex shaft and are used to polish stone after it's been shaped the way you want it.  I am really pleased with it and I've learned a few things with it that I'll pass on (I'm also thinking of bringing it (and other related tools) with me to Cali next time we go (at the reunion more than one parent expressed an interest in us showing folks how to make stuff with the pretty rocks and not just collect them).

First, a good work surface is a must... you don't need a jewelers bench, but you will probably want a DIY bench pin or similar sacrificial surface to work on.

I use one of my home made ones for this and not my nice professional one because the professional one I have mounts in a steel bench block... This technique uses water (and sprays water!) and I really don't want to rust my bench block (allowing your metal working surfaces to get rust pitted is a capital offense in some shops!).

Second, this system uses pressure sensitive adhesives (PSA) on the pads. It also uses pressure and fairly high RPMs (2-10 thousand). This means that just putting the pad on with your fingers might not be enough pressure (by might I mean probably isn't). Like many other personal problems affixing the pads to the mandrel can be nicely solved with a few light taps of a hammer.

While we're at it remember  back in my post on making the workbench? Remember the Denim catch drawer?

This would be one of the situations where this item is really helpful. More than one pad slipped out before I got them affixed properly and more than one pretty stone has made the jump for life... the denim catch drawer (sling?) has faithfully intercepted them before they hit the ground. Hitting the ground tends to break or mar stones and other things just disappear. A little hand me down denim and a couple grommets and hooks saves head and heartaches.

Third, water and pressure are a must for the pads to polish right but not too much of either. To much water makes it harder for the pad to work and to much pressure tends to break or throw things (and throwing rocks is another machine's job!). You want firm but not crushing pressure and you want enough water to wet the pad and create a moist past over the stone (being more specific is hard, but you'll know it when you see it. 

With the notch in the pin this would be a good place/time to use a dop stick, but that is another post...

Here's a finished stone that I'm ready to put a bail on...

It's actually shinnier in person (enough so that the flash doesn't work well on it and my disperser was MIA...)

Well, that's it for today. Lisa will handle next weeks post and I'll be back here in two weeks. 

In the mean time if you need more insane ramblings check out my other blog at

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Writing, Writing and The Summer is Gone

So, I'm several days late and I missed the last time I was supposed to post.  I will get back into the swing of things.  It is difficult to believe that the summer is almost over.  The beginning of my summer was so full, it was overwhelming.  The goal now is to clear off my plate so I can focus on my dissertation.  But here are some exciting things that have happened this summer because I was working so hard.

First Publication!

I just found out today, that my first article is now available!  (You can go see it at - it is in the Mobile Learning section.)  I worked with some amazing friends on this paper as part of our school work. (See it down there by the smiley face!)

It feels a bit surreal, but if I decide to go the faculty route, publishing will become mandatory.

AECT Symposium

So last month, I headed to Jacksonville, FL for the AECT Symposium.  Again, I was required to submit something, somewhere.  Most of my classmates submitted to the AECT Conference which will be in November.  But with two other conferences in October, we decided that a third was just not an option.
I honestly did not know what I was in for.  This was a small conference with about 25 people.  Almost everyone had submitted a "chapter."  The days were spent providing feedback to each other and talking about cool things in instructional design.  I made some great friends and connections.  And, after another draft and revision process all the chapters will be put into the AECT 2014 Research Symposium book.  Again, a bit surreal.


I can't believe it is already August.  The fall term starts on the 25th so things will be crazy at work.  I worked hard to exercise responding "no" to several opportunities that came up for this next school year.  But the goal is, as I said earlier, to work on my dissertation.  

Garden News

In the meantime, the tomatoes and peppers are ready for picking.  Yellow cayennes for drying - they are perfect for Tito's shredded beef.  The little roma-grape and yellow-pear tomatoes have been going straight into salads.  A couple of jalapenos have made it to the freezer (they were ripe right before we were leaving for a short weekend trip).  The next ones will probably be headed for some fresh salsa.  There are still dragon cayennes that should be coming soon.  Unfortunately, the garlic didn't want to grow, but we will try again next year.
Well, that is my short update for this week.  Hopefully, I will do better in two weeks when it is my turn again.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The rumors of our deaths...

Nope, we haven't dropped off the map! Lisa was just way tired after her trip and a little oppositional defiant...

and we didn't communicate too well about who was writing last week.

We are both feeling some what better now...

Now Lisa's expression looks more like this...

but, you know... with more face and less veggies.

The veggies are from our garden this year. The red 'matoes are a grape tomato and Roma cross breed that seems to be doing well (for some reason we do great with the cherry/pear/grape tomatoes but the bigger ones are problematic. We have Jalapenos (obviously) and two kinds of Cayennes (Yellow and Dragon). The yellows are coming out quick and plentiful. There are a lot of the others but they're taking longer to ripen.

In other news I've been doing a lot of work on the ward list for church (it's approximately forty people shorter now because I've actually been putting the research in to move out people who aren't here rather than being another in a long line of hand wringers). By the way any one out there dealing with records... At least learn to spell the name of your city... In addition to addresses in Pocatello I had addresses in Pocotello and Pocetella (Not to mention the one in Idaho Falls and the one in Downy...). And don't get me started about streets (too late... Garfield, N Garfield, N. Garfield, No Garfield and NGarfield may all translate the same in someones mind but not on the computer!)

Lisa has been invited to teach another class, which we are thinking about, but it would be a pain when added to the stuff she's already doing (she would like to graduate next year...)

We both have shop and writing projects going that are pretty cool, but I'm going to play those close to the chest until we have more definite info on publication and or finished pieces to show. I will say I'm getting some fun reactions to the Stainless Steel Belt project and mostly to the positive. As for the one guy who made a negative comment so far...Jealousy is ugly bub...

Well, that's it for this week. 
Hopefully Lisa will be back next week with conference adventure stories...

Monday, July 14, 2014

Beginnings, Middles and Ends!!!

And yes  there is a point to the title!

Lisa is leaving at 3:30 AM tomorrow morning for a conference in Florida. I'm not going... I been there, there aren't a whole lot of cool rocks there, and her air fair is paid for, mine isn't...

The product of this conference is a book chapter. So, congratulations to Lisa on a book chapter publication!

Meanwhile back up here in the North West, I'm working on both fiction and non fiction projects that are going to benefit from four days of total or near total control of my schedule!

So there is a beginning a couple of middles and an end...

Another key middle. I solved a rock polishing mystery. The finish quality of some of the stones I was polishing took a nose dive recently, and I was having trouble figuring out why. Even a return to the good 600 silicon carbide didn't help :(    . It turns out that the problem was I had way too many pieces of slabs in some of the recent mix (an artifact of the stuff that didn't go into the reunion mix (most of that mix will work better as there are fewer slabs)). The problem was in the middle (literally!). The problem is if you have too many flat slabs they stack up on each other and mess with the polishing action. This was undetected in the coarse and medium because the flat sides were already smoothed to that level. But it was a problem in the fine and polish. Solution, less slabs more funny shapes (which isn't a real problem, I have another use for slabs...). I mention this one because its a problem that I really haven't found talked about anywhere, so I felt it might be worth passing on the information.

And now one big middle and two ends!

I finished my chain mail belt on Saturday!

It's big enough for me to wear (see I told you it was a big middle!!!) and on the heavy side. It is European six in one chain (six in ends up using twice as many rings and weighs twice as much as normal four in one). There are roughly 2200 5/16 inch steel rings in there plus a few smaller ones and a buckle. I've already found my first modification for next time... I'm adding a couple bronze rings near the non buckle end to help find where the holes for the buckle are. So, fashion accessory, marketing tool, gym equipment, all in one!

Once I thought a snake skin belt would be cool, but the chain mail has a similar pattern and is much easier to care for (it is stainless steel). It also has the virtue of never being to big or to small. When I loose weight I make it shorter, if I gain (trying not to!) I add some (which makes it heavier and helps me loose weight!)

This one is just three little items, but I have to be up in the morning to help Lisa get to that plane...
Good luck, 
take care, 
and if she isn't carried off by a mosquito... 
Lisa will be back next week.

Update: <Tuesday morning>  Lisa is safely on her way. I have discovered that we have a 24 hour McDonalds in town (don't know how that figures into future adventures but...) and since I don't recall a joke in this post... if I put that new belt around my 'spare tire' does that make it a steel belted radial?

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Rocks Rocked!

As Patrick said last week, I will be jumping back in and doing some of the writing.  I have been doing lots of writing, but that has been more in the vain of homework, dissertation preparation, article summaries, an article for publication (on the first round of edits back from the copy editor!) and a book chapter.  So, now that I feel I can breathe (last coursework concludes on Friday!) you'll get to "hear" from me too.

As we thought about the family reunion, we wanted to share our love of rocks with the nieces and nephews.  If you have been reading, you have seen snapshots of our preparation and some of the cool rocks that were included in the activity.  I know that at least one niece has created something amazing with her rocks.

I did not always like rocks.  Didn't really think much about them.  My dad has a box of rocks in the garage.  I mostly remember the lava rocks with the holes and that they were really light. (And that my brothers hammered some nails into them - as kids that was pretty cool - hammering nails into a rock!) Turns out my great-grandfather had a full lapidary shop and one of the grandmothers on the other side of some of the nieces and nephews is also a rockhound.  I'm not sure if there is a genetic connection, but it does make you wonder.

So, why do I like rocks, now?  I will get some pictures of some of my favorite rocks to better illustrate this in the future (camera took a dive, so no new pictures for a bit).  For now, it will just be words.  As you look at all the different kinds of rocks - agate, amethyst, geode, bloodstone, moss agate, aventurine, jasper, etc. - you get to see all the creative wonders of our world.  Some of my favorite rocks remind me of the pictures of stars and galaxies with all their layers of color.  There are lots of various factors that are required to create some of these amazing beauties and some we still are sure exactly how the water got into the rock to create the beautiful layers.  Petrified wood is also one of my favorites.  My dad is a general contractor so I have grown up around wood, and I love seeing the textures of wood in beautiful agate colors and clear quartz and eval opalized!

I loved watching everyone go through their rocks.  And I think we even surprised some of the adults, as we brought bags for them too!  Rockhounding is definitely a family affair!  There are no age limits, and often the smaller fingers and short statures are better at finding the good stuff!

Sometime in the afternoon, someone asked my dad if he still had that box rocks.  He does.  Perhaps the fact that my mom searched through two bags, indicates that she will maybe let that "old" box of rocks come out of the dark and dusty garage to be shared again.

Here are some pictures we took throughout the day!


Monday, June 30, 2014

Last Week

Ok, first off I would like to answer a question I was asked recently,  "why don't you join a gym?" Well lets compare to what I'm doing now that I have the shop going and doing the cooking/baking thing...

Benefit of the gym: you can do an upper body workout.
Benefit of the kitchen I can do an upper body work out (come on gym heads try kneading some bread some time!) I can also practice hand eye coordination (read: knife skills!) and as a side benefit if I "eat it", it probably tastes better than anything in the gym!

Benefit of the gym: do cardio on the stair stepper or the treadmill, you can even run with wrist weights to improve your work out.
Benefits of the shop: do cardio on real stairs, by walk/jog/running out to the back workshop, or repeated strikes with a hammer weighing between 1/2 and 8 pounds. I can improve my workout by hauling five gallon buckets with up to 50 pounds of rocks in them, large pieces of steel, bronze or pewter ingots, 20 lb propane tanks, cinder blocks and/or 2x4s, 4x4s, and sheets of plywood! Side benefit: all the stuff I'm carrying is usually mine to keep, give away or sell as I see fit, and the gym charges a membership fee to borrow stuff; the 'membership fee' for my shop is my mortgage which I'm paying anyway.

Benefit of the gym: getting to hang out with a bunch of people who... HEY WAIT!!! WHO SAID I WAS A PEOPLE PERSON!!!

Anyway on to the main topic of the day...

We got home from the Layne family family reunion today. I think over all a good time was had my most (If I say all someone will complain just to complain, so I'll stick with most). There were no fatalities reported (except for a couple fish) but first aid skills were practiced by a number of parental units (and I'd have some pictures up but the camera needs some first aid of it's own...)

In addition to the traditional games, lots and lots of talking and going down to the lake adventures; we did a rock activity, which I have to say went fairly well. There were sorties to get raspberry shakes (OK are raspberries really native to the area, or is this some weird northern Utah marketing thing????) and several projects of one sort or another including knitting and at least two chain mail projects of mine (and Patrick descends into about 45 minutes of "chain of command" jokes that I will spare you...)

Thanks to Lisa, her parents and all the family that came out it was fun.

Am I going to have less to talk about now that the rock activity is done?

Less to talk about? Not flamin' likely!
Also Lisa is talking about writing more in this blog, and I have my other blog going too...

Until next week, happy Fourth of July. Have a blast (but be safe doing it!).

Monday, June 23, 2014

no matter how small

In the book Guns Up Johnnie M. Clark describes how Marines operate: a barrage of artillery then an advance no matter how small. Generally this is followed by another barrage and another advance. This has been how the last week has gone and how this week is going...

Several projects in the works, several projects making progress but for some of them progress is the most positive thing I can report!

Not to worry friends and neighbors! Reinforcements have arrived and more are on the way! Lisa's sister is her for a few days before the family reunion...

and then there are these guys...

I know, I know the  composition is bad and the background is busy... I'll Photoshop it later!  These are Jelly Babies (shrieks from at least two people "they do exist!"). This batch arrived early this month and have been helping out on some of my projects (with a really high casualty rate, especially among the red, green and orange flavors...).

We didn't get the project I'd hoped to do in this post done. There were rain delays and schedule issues. Both serious items... the project involves fire and cinder blocks and the Jellies hate unintended steam explosions almost as much as I do... as for the scheduling issues, some times I do need to be there for other people!

I do have the other item I was going to show in this one so that's what we will go on to.

This is a project that you can do with metal and pretty rocks (like some of the ones at the Layne reunion...)

It is a chain main project to make a pendant.

But before we make shiny...

I really had to put that in. My sculpture professor at ISU always accused me of invoking Fleetwood Mac if I put anything chain related in a project, so here we are...

For this project we will use two pairs of pliers (I prefer flat jaws (no teeth) one pair is flat nose and the other chain (needle) nose) and 20 gauge 3/16 inch stainless steel rings.

And yes we have pictures...

The top ring is a representative ring of our group you are going to open one of these so you can slip other rings on it and close ten rings so that they are complete smooth circles. Now, put your ten rings on the one ring and close it. This results in what you see in the bottom set.


 Each of the next eight rows has 15 rings, so go ahead and open 120 rings... For the first row we will be working in twos and ones. Slip one open ring through two of the rings on the previous row (the ten rings on the one ring) and close it. Slip another open ring through one of the two rings that we connected the first ring of this row to and the ring next to it (so the first two rings of this row are connected to three rings on the ten ring row). The rings are going to start forming an overlapping pattern. Next slip an open ring through just  the one last ring in the ten row that you attached one to (so it overlaps with the other two on this row). This is somewhat like adding a stitch in knitting and easier to explain with pictures I don't happen to have on hand :(. Repeat these three rings four more times to complete the row. The second set in this picture is with four rows done... rows 2-8 are easier just connect the first ring to two rings on the previous row, then insert the next ring overlapping the first (connecting to one of the same rings and the unconnected one next to it).

The set on the left in this picture has its eight rows attached. We insert a  pretty rock and close up the top. This will vary a little bit depending on the size and shape of your stone. But generally the next row is five rings. Each ring is connected to three on the previous row (connect one to the first three, one to the second three, etc.). For the next row just run one ring through each  of the five by it's self. Connect those rings (all five) with one last ring that should lock in the stone.

And you get...

A stone and chain mail pendant that you can string on a cord or necklace. I recommend stainless steel or sterling silver both for strength and cleanliness. You could use some aluminum alloys, but some of them (and bronze and brass...) tend to oxidize in ways that can leave stains on cloths or skin. You could use enameled copper but copper is pretty soft and you might have to step up the wire gauge to compensate (and get to see less of your stone).

Well, assuming I survive the reunion see you next week!