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!

Monday, June 16, 2014

What the 'Trek?

Ok, a couple of important and interesting (yeah in my dreams) things today folks...

The wars continue... The ornamental peas have been subdued (Ok, after clearing the ones around the roses I got really happy on the others with the string trimmer!). We have moved on to one of the classic enemies, spiders. They  love to come in in the spring and fall, and find places they like to stay in the basement and stairwell (note: most of them have the sense to stay out of the active workshop area, but less active spots are nice terrain for them). So I have taken to using glue traps...

And some of the spiders have taken to attacking other spiders stuck in the glue traps... Apparently I've brought the La Brea Tar Pits with me and the spiders think they're saber tooth tigers!

They are definitely trying to impersonate LA traffic (actually I was singing while working in the basement (everyone (and everything!) is a critic)).

Second item... As I mentioned last week I started a new blog. Unlike last week, I'm thinking I might put some thinky stuff in this one still as the mood strikes me. The new blog is meant to be a more professional blog for me as a writer and researcher. There is an will be some interesting and cool stuff there (I just won't be talking about rocks and setting things on fire (too much that is!). I'm planning on doing posts for the new one on Fridays (posting schedules help!). Here's a link:

Third item... Getting ready for the reunion... in addition to working on the plan for the food, I decided to see how some of the amethyst from the reunion mix would 'cook up'...

This is just after a rough tumble. I'm going to say it's coming out pretty nicely! I had plenty of good stuff to fill the medium barrel...

With leftovers!


The batch included a couple big enough to be carvers, some smalls that would be reasonable ear ring size and some pendant stones that I really don't want to have to wait the whole process time for (but I do so oh well!)

Item the fourth...
Some of you know and some of you don't that I am a convert to the church. Something fewer of you know is that part of what lead me to accept what the missionaries were teaching me was an episode of Star Trek the Animated series. What this episode provided was the idea that truth and learning was spread out through out the world, but no one had all the truth, no one had put the pieces together. I came to the conclusion that this also applied to the Christian religion, everyone had parts but no one had the whole of it. I chewed on this idea for a couple years, then I met some friends who introduced me to the missionaries. It was at that time I first heard the story of Joseph Smith. In that discussion I received confirmation that I was right, parts of the truth had been spread through out the earth; however, I was also wrong! Someone else (many someones really, but one in particular) had been looking for that whole truth and was told, as I believed, that none of the factions of his day had the whole truth. That someone, Joseph Smith, had the privileged to be the first modern prophet of God, the first prophet of the restored church of Jesus Christ on the earth. Thanks to him and the prophets and apostles that have come after the church has been restored in our day with all the pieces Heavenly Father sees fit to give us, in the proper place.

Now why did I bring this up?
1: I think it's kinda important!
2: Hulu has recently picked up Star Trek the Animated Series. So, for the first time since 1987 I got to watch the episode! (I'm including a link because it did not want to embed in the blog : (

Well, that's it for today...
Already have at least one cool item for next week (two actually). And there's one more that I want to do for next week, but there's only one problem... for weeks I've been wanting rain, and now I need it to stop raining!

Monday, June 9, 2014

War... and Peas?

That's right... Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls last week I declared war against an implacable foe bent on world (or at least backyard) domination... the ornamental pea plant!

Sure they don't look like much but they do spread, they grow quickly and they like to wrap around and climb things (especially when you don't want them to).

What crime did they commit? Why would I formally declare  war???


That would be one of my rose bushes!!!

As you can see the bush is up against the side of the house and for some reason (yeah 'some reason' - Lisa) the city and the insurance folks won't let me fix this with my weed burner torch! So I had to go in by hand. Remembering there is a rose bush in there that I'm trying to save, and it is spider season...

And so, after a surgery in which I extracted the pea plant (which was actually so intent on climbing that I ended up ripping out a couple of young rose canes in the process : ( ) Here's what's left...

Yes they need more work! But on the good side what I had thought was one rose plant is actually two (I cut out some rose dead wood in the same battle). This explains why the rosebush was a little schizophrenic about flower colors!

In talking with Lisa we're considering transplanting one or both to spots up at the front of the house. Any advice would be much appreciated!

So, yay for roses and boo to pea plants. Trust me ornamental peas will take over your yard and your life and not in a good way!

In other news...

1. I am not going to talk about Bowe #$%$#@^^$#$#!!! After what the men in his unit have said (and what his dad said) I really don't feel like stating the obvious! (and anyone feeling like he was 'swift boated' unfairly can tell it to the families of the people who died looking for him)

2. I don't recall if I mentioned it but Lisa got a second publication accepted.

3. I'm submitting some stuff I feel is pretty killer. (Lisa agrees.)( And Lisa did write that.)
4. Completely forgot four!

5. I'm actually starting a new blog (which I will probably release the address and so on next week). I have no idea what my posting schedule for it will be yet, but it will be a lot more of the 'thinky stuff' while this one stays more house and project based. This arrangement allows me to be more thinky (and cover more serious topics) in the one and have the other be more fun and expirimental/sciency/diy.

6. ...Tahiti is not in Europe! I'm going to be sick...
(cool points to the person who can place the movie reference (and bonus points to the person who figures out where I ran into it (Sorry Lisa, no points for you!)))

Well, I know this one is sorta short (and there were no videos or fires!) but have no fear...

For soon...

I shall spring into action!

 Deal with many sticky situations!

Face the heat!

And generally seek to...

Rock the world around me!!!

And for those of you who can't handle the adventures (or the jokes)...

Just focus on the pancakes.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Whose side are you on???

I know, I know people like happy things like pancakes and cool projects. Well, we'll get to those but there are a few other things to say first...

Lately a polling rep took note of the fact that I'm not affiliated with either major party. I could tell in talking with him that he really wanted to know why I'm  not a member of his party... "after all we have a number of views in common..." Well, to quote Tree Beard (and for what ever NSA spook is reading this that would be the JRR Tolkien fictional character Tree Beard) "I'm not all together on anyone's side because no one is on my side". One party has Barak Obama (do I really need to say anything else?). The other party has Idaho's attorney general who signed a legal opinion stating that there is no right to bare arms in the second amendment!

Can't, won't and shouldn't vote a straight party ticket for either party. Like so many other things in life one needs to make informed personal choices in voting. Short and sweet why would you choose the guy who doesn't represent your beliefs and interests? Choose the guy who is the best fit for what you want and hold him or her to what they say.

A couple of years ago Lisa and I made it down to LA for a graduation... at the time our sister in law was running for the local school board. Guess what, even though we don't agree on everything, if I were voting for the school board in that area I would have voted for her. It has nothing to do with whether she has a 'D' or 'R' after her name. Actually I'm not sure which party she belongs to (if any!) and it really doesn't matter. If I were voting in that election what mattered was that she was an actual mother of children in those schools who wanted to improve the education of her children. She was someone I could trust to actually look into policies and programs and make the decision that would best benefit her children. I would much rather that than someone who's going to just pick whatever seems popular because it's a stepping stone to the real office or job they're looking for.

Progress is made in this country when every day citizens make informed decisions (not educated because that has a slightly different meaning (and communists, fascists, cult leaders, etc. just love to 'educate' people)). Why do we need the EPA making rules to cut carbon emissions when people are already going that way? For example, people were upgrading to 90+% efficiency heating for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with government regulations even before some of the rules were made. (this time I really do mean educate) Educate people, provide them with good information, teach them how a particular path benefits them, show them what the options are (and the results and consequences of those options), and then back off and let them choose. True some will choose the wrong way, but they know the consequences and get to deal with them. In the case of the heater I'd much rather have the 90% (or better yet 95%) efficiency model than the old 70-80% models that are floating around out here. The higher efficiency ones are cheaper, more efficient and can be vented with a piece of PVC pipe which makes set up and operation cheaper and easier! In the case of elected officials I want the one that will represent my values and principles; that does not necessarily mean membership in a particular party... (actually some days I'd like to elect a Dalek to office... that would make for an interesting filibuster...)

Well enough said on that, well one more thing... we need to be responsible for the choices we make. And how we do that can have fun and interesting results! For example today I was clearing some weeds and putting in some bark mulch. I had some old mulch that I had previously purchased but I needed some more, so I bought some. Unfortunately I chose not to take the time to check on color... so, my old mulch was brown and the new is red... Really didn't feel like returning mulch so I needed a new solution...


Create a pattern! Now if I do the same thing on the other side it looks like I did something artistic on purpose rather that just "he screwed up and got the wrong mulch"

Ok, for those of you who like pretty stuff or just don't want to deal with scary things like making choices...

The first rose of the year... Just meditate one that...

For those of you who are more adventurey... I kind of uncovered a major ant hill in the yard while I was working outside today. Haven't dealt with it yet but I'm considering something like this...

Ok, so I've got something for the voters, choosers, meditators, artists, how about something we can all (or mostly all) agree on...

Saturday I actually achieved criterion fluff-age!

I realized that my starter was being a bit thin and liquidy and that the eggs would make it more so, so I added a couple tablespoons of flower to the mix just before the eggs and got the seriously fluffy and tender sour dough pancakes I'd been looking for.

Found the Fluff Sourdough Pancakes by Patrick

The night before cooking mix up
2 Cups flour
2 Cups milk
1 Cup sourdough starter

Use a fairly large bowl 1) you'll be adding more to the bowl and 2) if its warm enough, your starter is strong enough, and the bowl small enough it will try to take over you kitchen! Let it stand over night at room temperature (I like to cover it with a towel to help control it's environment and prevent ideas of world (or kitchen) domination (I hate competition especially from single celled organisms!))

When you're about ready to cook heat up your pan or griddle to 400F.

When the cook surface is just about ready mix into your batter
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Butter your griddle/pan
I use 1/3 cup portions and it makes 12 pancakes that way, but use your own initiative on size of cake and when to flip
The extra flour added structural integrity without adding toughness. You could probably add the 2 tablespoons of brown sugar from my last recipe, but I didn't and they didn't seem to need it (I tend to go for jam or syrup so they don't have to stand entirely on their own sweetness).

Ok, figured it out and just in time for berry season!

That's it for today...

As for next week... Lets see... pan, torch, random aluminum... "Zeek, git the propane"