Sunday, February 27, 2011

27 Feb 2011 - Sunday - First Bike Ride Of The Season

It is a beautiful day here in Central North Carolina. The temperature is in the 60s and 70s and there is lots of sun and not much wind.

A perfect day for a early spring bicycle ride.

I left the house around 10AM. I had my brand new 'Camel-Back-Mule' back-pack that I got for Christmas on, and it served very well. It is roomy but does not feel like you are wearing a 'back-pack'. I did not put any water in the bladder but instead took a couple of water bottles and they were plenty for this ride.

All my exercising year round these days did help with the ride. I felt really strong for almost the entire ride.

My ride today took me down to the end of the street then up to Yadkin Drive then down across Crabtree Creek where I turned right and rode a couple of hundred yards to the greenway entrance. Then it was off up the greenway following Crabtree Creek upstream to the end.

The greenway now has new markers that, I think, are indicating the total distance from one end to the other. At the end of the upstream end of the greenway it said 15 miles. That should mean if you ride the entire thing up and down and back to where you got on you should go about 30 miles. My odometer only read 24 miles however. So I think once they get it all connected without having to exit and ride on streets as you do now it may be longer.

Once at the upstream end of the greenway I turned around and rode all the way to the other end which is near Wake Med Hospital. This ride is really beautiful. There is a hill just before the end near Wake Med and getting back up to our street from Crabtree Creek is also a hill. Given that this was the first bike ride of the season I felt really good about how I was able to climb those hills.

Here are the details:

Total Distance ... 38.06 km
Average Speed .... 17.60 kph
Maximum Speed .... 41.80 kph
Total Time ....... 2:09:15 hh:mm:ss

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Week Three Of Six (A Simple 'Shaker Style' Wall Cabinet)

Yesterday was the third of six weeks for the project. Here is a recap of what I've done since week one. Between Saturday classes one of the instructors is available on Thursday nights and Friday afternoons to help the students with the project, So the sessions below include Thursdays and Saturdays.

Click the image below to see some pictures of this project:

A Simple 'Shaker-Style' Wall Cabinet

(Week-1) SAT: See this link, for a discussion of what was done that day.

(Week-1) THU: I arrived early before the instructor and decided I knew how to mark up my beautiful boards so I could locate the place to drill holes and in the process introduced my first "spirit-trail/error" in to the work by using a marking gage instead of simple dim pencil lines.

Once the instructor arrived and showed me how to work the jig that was attached to the drill press, I sized the pegs I had picked up earlier at Home Depot and picked out a drill bit that matched up pretty closely. I was able to, in very short order, drill all the holes.

I did put one extra hole on one side that I did not intend to be there, but I declare that is an extra hole for a peg to hang something on instead of a mistake.

(Week-2) SAT: We did two sets of cuts. The first was to cut a rabbet on all four sides of the the cabinet to receive the back of the cabinet. The second was to cut a rabbet and dado joint to connect the sides to top and bottom.

When setting up the table saw to cut my rabbet and dado joint, I cut the rabbet just one saw blad too long resulting in a about at 1/8 inch gap on all four parts. The good news was the next Thursday all I had to do was shave a saw blade's worth off the parts and everything fit correctly. The entire cabinet is now about 1/4 inch thinner than it was.

On this day I also sanded down the inside of the top/bottom left/right sides of the cabinet removing almost all traces of my first 'spirit-trail'.

(Week-2) THU: I shaved a bit off the rabbet joints of top and bottom pieces and then created the boards for the back of the cabinet and the boards for the door of the cabinet.

We are using Ambrosia Maple for the back of the cabinet. The way we are doing it is to take a rough board of this wood and join an edge. Then join a face. Once we have that then we have a flat edge and a flat face that is at right angles to the edge and the piece can be taken to the planer where the other rough face is made parallel to the first flat face. Then back to the joiner to make the last rough edge flat and parallel to the first. We wind up with a perfect board.

To create the back board we take the single board and split it down the middle. This activity is called 'Re-Sawing' where you hold the flat face of the board against the fence of the table saw and the flat edge against the table and run the saw through the middle of the board. The table saw is way too small to go all the way through so once the piece goes through once you just rotate it end to end and run the piece through again. We then crank the table saw up a bit and repeat until the table saw will go no higher. This does leave a bit of wood in the middle but we then take the piece to the band saw an complete the cut.

This gives something called 'bookmatching' where when you lay the two pieces of wood next to each other you see a symmetrical pattern to the grain. The pieces need to be run through the planer again to remove the saw marks and get rid of the dimple in the middle caused by the difference in the width of the band-saw blade and the table-saw blade.

The last bit done on Thursday was to cut the door boards. This, by now felt very natural to take a piece of raw cherry and join one edge and a face then rip it down the middle to create two long boards and then chop them so you get two short and two long for the door frame then plane and join the remaining rough edge and side.

(Week-3) SAT: This day was spent gluing up the top/bottom and left/right sides. It was pretty straight forward, but to prepare for it I did need to clean out the dado cuts so that the rabbet joints fit snugly. To get the box totally square a clamp is put from one corner to the opposite corner. Interestingly the clamps can be removed after one hour.

I think that next week we may cut the Mortise and Tenon joints for the door frame.

Sheep To Sweater

The Easter-Fleece-Sweater

Last spring (2010) Evelyn visited The Kelly Clement farm and helped with the spring sheep shearing. One in particular ewe was named, Easter. Easter was pregnant at the time and gave birth that evening after being shorn.

Evelyn had the opportunity to purchase a "Fleece" and she choose Easter's fleece. A fleece is the entire product produced when you shear a sheep. It is almost certain that one of the sheep in this set of pictures is Easter, but we do not know which one. We think Kelly can tell us which one is Easter, click here for the pictures.

A couple of years before Evelyn learned how to spin wool into thread, and how to ply thread into yarn. Evelyn's additional expertise in weaving, knitting and sewing made this something that added a symmetry to her fiber arts skills.

The next step after shearing a sheep is to clean the fleece by picking out the impossible tangles and sticks and straw and discarding those bits (or saving the tangles for felt). During this process we see something on the back porch table that looks suspiciously like a sleeping yeti.

After cleaning, the fleece is washed, dried and the "Carding" process begins. This process involves taking bits of the fleece and drawing it across two wide paddles that have short steel bristles. This proces straightens the wool and produces a product called "Roving".

The roving is typically braided into great hanks and put aside to be spun into threads. The spinning process involves a machine that most folks are not aware of.

The "Spinning Wheel" (or wheel part of a spinning wheel) is just the part that creates the momentum. The actual bit that does the work is called "The Flyer" and it is responsible for twisting the roving into a thread and taking that thread up on a bobbin. The roving is fed into the flyer as the spinner keeps the wheel rotating which in turn spins the flyer. Evelyn powers her spinning wheel with foot pedels like an old pump organ.

Once you have at least two bobbins of thread you can ply them into a yarn by feeding them back into/through the flyer to create a twisted product called Yarn.

Once you have some bobbins of yarn you wrap the yarn on a stick like affair called a "Niddy-Noddy" that produces a hank of yarn that you would typically find in a yarn store. The niddy-noddy also measures the yarn so you know how many yards (you count as you wind it).

Before knitting with the yarn (or it is sometimes used right from the hank) you wind the yarn into a ball. This ball of yarn is something you can feed into a loom or knit into something wonderful.

In this case the, something wonderful, is "The Easter Fleece Sweater". The entire fleece went into this sweater with the exception of a bit left over that could be knitted into elbow patches for the sweater or perhaps even a hat.

Fig 1: Close Up

Fig 2: The Proud Wearer

The picture in Fig 2 is before the sweater was 'blocked' and that bulge in front, I am sure, is all part of the sweater and not due in any way to the shape of the fellow wearing it.

This sweater is not dyed any color at all other that the color of Easter. It has only been cleaned, washed, combed, washed again, spun into thread, plied into yarn, and finally knitted into this beautiful sweater.

The feel of this sweater is wonderful, it is very soft and warm. The washing was done with "18-in-1 Hemp Eucalyptus Pure-Castile Soap Made With Organic Oils" and gives the wool a wonderful smell of Eucalyptus. The Eucalyptus gives it a natural moth proofing since moths do not like the Eucalyptus odor.

[Added 11 FEB 2012] Here is a slide show of the pictures with some pictures of Easter the Sheep also:

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Six Full Moons

So, think about what you see when you look up into the sky and see a full moon. Now, think about an object in the sky that spans the size of six full moons. Well, that is just a fantasy, right? Something that big would dominte the sky. Now imigine your eyes could collect all the light that falls on them for a period of thirty minutes as if it were just an instant. And there in the sky around the constellation leo you would see this:

Here is the link to the main APOD page "" and here is a link to the image above "".

And if you could transport yourself backward in time and imagine fixing your gaze at this part of the sky while time flew forward compressing the past 40,000 years of time in just a few minutes you would see first a brilliant star, probably outshining all the other stars in the sky which would then dim, with the remnants boiling and expanding into the picture you see above.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Meta And Self Referential Thinking

The following "Tree Lobster" web comic made me think about thinking.

And here is my comment:

Humans have the ability to hold in their minds thoughts that can be characterized as "Meta". Additionally they have the ability to think "Self Referentially". The human mind is quite comfortable with both modes of thought. The results of the combination of these two abilities do characterize our mental culture and when we advance to the level of civilization that allows significant "Free-Time" to just contemplate our existence these two features of our mind do give rise to an ever complex world view that we enjoy in the present day. Our failure to validate what we say and think in light of these to very powerful thought methods helps to explain some of our strange beliefs and behaviors.