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Contemplating: Hywind Scotland

I had previously read about the Hywind Scotland floating wind farm project, but until I watched their full story video I had no idea how large these wind turbines are. This is an amazing engineering feat. Perhaps there's actually a chance that we'll pull ourselves out of the carbon-based fuel death spiral we're in.

The top of the assembled wind turbine

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Reading: A Gift of Time by Jerry Merritt

A Gift of Time by Jerry MerrittPitch perfect narration by Christopher Lane

Micajah "Cager" Fenton is an 80 year old who has grown weary of living … until one evening he comes how to find a giant crater in his yard with a "time glider" in the bottom of it. The time glider looks a bit like an old, beat up shipping container, and it's busted. The traveler in the glider asks for his help repairing it. Being an old engineer with a degree in Physics, he's intrigued, so rolls up his sleeves and gets to work. This rekindles a spark of enthusiasm in life and sets him on an amazing journey.

I read a lot of science fiction … a lifetime addiction. Unfortunately, many stories can be a bit tedious or overwrought, and I often end up speeding up the audio playback to get through them more quickly. Only once in awhile does a story contain a glimmer of a fresh idea, and it's ever rarer that the quality of the story itself lives up to a fresh idea's potential. These are stories I'm in no hurry to finish; they are a sip of good scotch to let linger on the taste buds.

In this tale, Merritt gives us the gift of some fresh ideas wrapped in a story populated with rich characters and vivid adventure. He explores the depths of human experience, the unfolding of humanness in an alien being, and the realization that a human can harbor more than a little alienness deep within. Guess I may want to take a short jump back and savor this one again.

Podium Publishing, 2017

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Living in the Rockies

Mysticles on our Rocky Mountain Birch tree. There's a gentle westward mist meandering through today, forming delicate pointed icicles on the east face of every branch, pine needle, and dried grass blade.

Delicate mist-formed icicles on birch twigs

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Woodworking: A few rough cedar projects

I was at the lumber yard a few weeks ago when I spotted some beautiful 2″ x 6″ cedar planks … I love cedar!

That led to three projects: refurbishing our deck stairway, then using the cutoffs to replace a little wooden walkway between our house and shed, and finally using the cutoffs from that to build a birdhouse for our local songbirds.

Turns out I actually had just enough wood left over for two bird houses, with about 8 inches of 1″ x 6″ remaining! The leftover piece is so nice that I'll keep it; I'm sure I'll figure out something to do with it someday! By the way, I made the roofs—and the top tread of the stairway, which is even a bit wider than the other treads—from a beautiful cutoff piece of 2″ x 12″ that I squirreled away 16 years ago when the deck originally was built, just waiting for the right project to come along.

Small cedar walkway between our garage and our shed

Note: While the birdhouses are relatively smooth on the exterior from the planing, the interiors retain their original rough-cut faces, which I read makes it easier for the little birds to climb out when they are ready to fly the nest. Also, the fronts swing open (outward and upward) for the annual clean out.

I'll hang the birdhouses this autumn to be ready for tenants next spring.

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Tool review: Weeding fork

Each spring, we do battle against invasive plants on our property, many of which (like thistle) are tough plants with even tougher tap roots. Fortunately, I found an equally tough battle axe to wield in this fight: a hand-forged, long-handled weeding fork made by Red Pig Garden Tools in, I kid you not, Boring, Oregon.

Red Pig Gardening Tools weeding fork

This tool makes it much easier to get down at the tap root even in our rocky soil, and it's strong enough to easily pop the gnarliest ones.

We have several of Red Pig's tools, actually, and they're all well-made, tough, quality tools. A couple favorites: the 2-Tine Jekyll Weeder, a weeding fork inspired by Gertrude Jekyll, and ´╗┐the Warren Hoe, which is a mini furrower.

Red Pig Garden Tools

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CQ: Zooming around with the ZUMspot

MMDVM boardAfter I saw an interesting ZUMspot Review video by Craig, W1MSG, about using the ZUMspot with Pi-Star, I was convinced to give it a try, and I'm really glad I did, it's a brilliant little board!

I mounted the ZUMspot + RPi Zero W on a similarly small board with a rechargeable battery, the Alchemy Power Pi-Zero-UpTime, which functions as an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) and portable battery pack. I also added a 3.2″ Nextion display for fun. Then I made a custom mahogany case for the whole thing.

ZUMspot, Pi-Star, DMR, in mobile mode

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