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.