Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Henry is 3



Henry Turned 3 today. Yes i haven't posted in a while but apparently parenting two kids takes up a lot of your time. Go figure.

I have been saving up some thoughts:

Photoshop has a "red-eye" filter, but for us at least a "snot-nose" filter would be more useful.

I have, for the first time in my life, used up a whole box of paperclips. I also realized that if you have a big bottle of asprin (or tylenol, or whatever) and it is empty, you have a pretty good sense of how many headaches you have.

Here are a bunch of links:

World Atlatl Association

Microsoft has released all their "Express" programming languages for free this year. I'm trying again, when I have free time, to get Visual Basic under my belt.

We received a pamphlet from them with our new stove. I wasn't aware that it was a deadly enough problem to warrant an acronym.

Freda Utley.

Metalsmithing tutorials.

Look for more rapid posting after the new year, for now we're so busy I barely get time to breathe.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Jed Clampett

I had a bunch of funny stuff to write, I typically can't remember any of it...

Every time I deposit checks at the bank they take time, those dear souls, to remind me of the vast array of financial services the bank, my bank, is ready to fulfill for my benefit. I feel like Jed Clampett, with Mr. Drysdale breathing down his neck, yet ready to lay down his life, to keep his bank's hands on Jed's money.

I love America.

The picture above shows typical working conditions in my self imposed cubicle.

Sorry I haven't posted lately, the small human that is resting upon my hulk has not been sleeping well, and we have been working like dogs. Tired little dogs.

Henry has Teletubbie slippers.

Here are some tools I ought to have, ironically (iconically?)

Interesting stuff on micro-mechanical-machining...

Another Lego milling machine...

Friday, October 28, 2005

Mechanical stuff

Last night I went over to "Open Shop" at Kent's. He has been having problems with his Lagun mill for the last year or so, it wasn't cutting square. He had tried a bunch of things, cleaning the ways, adjusting the gibs, but still had a problem, and he couldn't afford to take the mill out of service completely and try a rebuild. What made things so hard to diagnose was that the mill seemed to be true in the x-axis, but when cutting along the y axis the cut wasn't square, out by about .001"/1" which is not precise enough for his work (or most work).

So last night we tried a bunch of measurements. Checking a cylindrical sqare butted against the z-ways showed that there was no error in either x or y. What could it be? I figured it was either the vise or the head. Checking the back jaw of the Kurt vise showed it was parallel to the x axis travel. Clamping a square down in the jaws of the Kurt also showed no error. But then we put the square up on some parallels so that it was gripped by the top 1/8" of the jaws (which is how he holds most work in the vise). The error then showed up. It was the vise all along, not the machine. Seems it was twisting the work, and while when unclamped it was true, under the pressure of clamping it was out.Kent put a different vise on and the machine cut perfectly square. What was odd is that the vise was one he bought when he got the mill, new, about 20 years ago. All the Kurt vises he has have a key retaining the back jaw, but this one didn't. Maybe they added one later just because of this sort of problem, or maybe it has nothing to do with it at all. But he's happy now.

George was there to keep us on the straight and narrow, he was a machinist at GE and knows just about everything, when he pronounced our different test setups correct we knew they were, and when he saw problems we eliminated them.

George related a tale about how for one job he had to put a slot in the face of a bar, with the slot centerline through the center of the face. About half of them would come out with the slot slightly off of center, and he couldn't figure out why. Each bar had the same diameter and the setup wasn't shifting, but on some of the pieces the slot would be above or below the center of the face. he then realised that the bars were actually pentagonally lobed, and although when measured they would show consistent diameter, when put in the vise some would be on a flat and some not, causing the height to be different.

As you can see from the picture at the top, Max is now able to pull himself up and "cruise", even though he is only 7 months (not even yet) old. Yikes. Henry can now catapult himself over the baby gates, and I am loath to top them with razor wire. Henry has an annoying tendency to crank the volume on his computer. I asked on the Make "Talk" forum, but the only reply I got suggested that I should break him of the habit, rather than suggesting a technical fix. Like a boy can resist twisting a potentiometer all the way to "11"...Anyone know how to limit computer volume, besides operator adjustment?

Virtual Mechanisms Animated by Java

The Dreadnought Project

A Finnish Live Steam Site (in english)

It's cold and rainy and Felice is probably going to play hooky from the market tomorrow. My dad sent a 4 volume DVD set of Warner Bros. cartoons, so I hope to watch some Bugs Bunny while supine. I have no idea why he sent it, but it's great.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Caught in some sort of act

I don't know what was going on but Max sure looks startled.

I went to an auction yesterday down in Springfield. It wasn't an amazing auction but I did get a few good deals, like two Tapmatic tapping heads for $80.00, and a KDK toolpost set for $25.00, which probably means nothing to most of the 5 readers of my blog. The auction was poorly attended which accounts for the low prices. Talking to the auctioneer afterwards about why there are so few auctions happening, he said that the business climate was good for machine shops right now, which is good news. As with most auctions there was a fair amount of BS-ing, typical whining from the auctioneer, and some meaningless conversation. As at most auctions the auctioneer figured out that I was the guy who bids $5.00 for almost anything, so I positioned myself close by and started a lot of the bidding. Auctioneers are optomistic - they'll start an item at say $200, then drop to $100, then $50, $25, then having not received a bid, they'll look to a cheap guy like me and say "$5.00?" in a pathetically plaintive way. They refer to this as "pulling teeth".

Kent's big purchase was typical for him, an insanely heavy shelf and all the items upon it for $40.00. I got to use an electric chain hoist when we loaded it on his truck. He also bought all the oil cans, as he is crazy-oil-can-collector man.

The only downside to the auction was that the auctioneers didn't get a lunchwagon (roach coach) to setup at the site, so Kent and I were completely famished by the end of the auction at 3:30PM. We found a restaurant on the way back in Juntion City, and I ate a huge bolus of cheese fries and about 4 cups of coffee.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Catching up

Nothing going on lately. Max is crawling all over the place. Henry is still cute.
I'm going to an auction tomorrow with Kent.

This is one of the last pictures of Henry with binky. He decided it was "broken" and hasn't used it for 4 days. He did look for it in his ear last night, as that's where daddy finds a lot of henry's stuff...

Here are a bunch of cool things:
Is this furniture too clever? (via Funfurde)

This book, reviewed in the New York Times, is probably not going to be a guide as we raise Henry and Max.

Check out the picture galleries, incredible photomicrography.

Everything you wanted to know about barcode. And here's a page that will generate barcode for your name (or any other word).

I should subscribe to this new robot magazine, but I'm too cheap.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


We are all about parental discipline. Henry always eats at the table, napkin on lap for every meal.

I just can't believe that some people will let their kids turn the living room upside down while shovelling mac & cheese into their gullet with a side dish of mindless TV. Philistines.

The folks at Freesteel emailed me back, they are working on an open source CAM module, not necessarily a high priced program as I thought, which is great in terms of potential pricing. I find that I use more open source software as my software budget goes down. You really don't have to pay for most types of software, if you don't mind some hoop jumping and problem skirting. That said, some software (like Rhino) is well worth the price.

I installed a 2nd hard drive in my new PC today. Nowhere in the Dell instructions did it mention that you have to go into BIOS and enable the 2nd SATA controller. Good thing I'm smarter than the average bear. I also bought a cheap USB drive, Cruizer Micro, it was only $15.00 after rebate at Staples and I thought I might need it someday.

Here's another great birthday gift to get me.

And for the true geeks: Lego machine tools that actually cut toast.

Sunday, October 09, 2005


I played around with POVray today...

We also went to the local farm and picked pumpkins with the attendant hayrides, etc.

Good night...

Friday, October 07, 2005

Wonder of Nature solved.

I received the following email from the local (OSU) university:

The beetle is a burying beetle, family Silphidae, genus Nicrophorus. I can't tell what species it is because ID is largely based on color patterns, which are obscured (totally!) by the parasitic mites on it. The orange antennal club suggests it could be N. investigator, a very common species in Oregon. Burying beetles feed their young on carrion, making a nest in the ground below the corpse, and feeding the young with liquified carrion. The mites belong to the Mesostigmata. They use the beetles for transport between beetle nests, where they feed on carrion, fly eggs, and sometimes beetle eggs. By reducing fly infestations, which would compete with the beetle larvae for the carrion, the mites are believed to have an overall beneficial effect on burying beetle reproductive success. Although I could find no literature stating that the mites feed on the adult beetles, carrying such a heavy load of mites is probably deleterious to the beetle carrying them.

Here is a website with a picture of another happy beetle, and another one in german.

On to other subjects, here is a site about the computer I first used to get onto the pre-internet "The Source"

Here is a blog about developing CAM software, which is fascinating if you have an interest in both programming and CNC. The blog doesn't care about interaction though, and seems mainly to be a way for them to let off steam. They need to be a little more outgoing as they state that they wish to be found on Google more easily. I will never be able to afford their software.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

I need to clean the bathroom

This is what I found in my sink today. Any entomologists out there? It looks like a beetle being consumed by tiny spiders to me...
The beetle was sluggishly trying to climb the sink (it came from the drain? eek). I scooped it up and put it and the 100 spider babies outside for nature, or perverse abomination thereof, to take its course.
The beetle is roughly 1.25" long or so.

No worries about overeating at lunch for me!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Internet boy

Henry now knows to hit the "Back" button in IE to navigate a site. He doesn't know "Forward" though. We'll work on that next.

Felice managed to spill a glass of seltzer water on her head today. I heard a noise, then laughing from the kitchen. She has some sort of logical story about getting the baby sling stuck and pulling too hard, but I suspect her brain was overheating.

(For the TV addicted)
"Lost" is now on at the same time as "Veronica Mars". Must suck to be Veronica Mars, although I suspect that program times mean less in the age of Tivo than they once did. Yes, I enjoy both shows.

I forgot to mention yesterday that I finally did a massive site update. Nothing like editing pictures for hours with a headcold.

I have tons of Henry & Max pics but I need a better way of uploading and showing them I suspect I'll start using the blog, but I have been unable to utilize Picasa to put anything up but the tiniest pictures. I'll keep working on it... Well look at that, I added a pic to this post...Joe and Henry having a drink.

So my latest frustration with the Dell is that the 1GB of memory is divided up into 4 256MB chunks, so if I add, say 1GB (two matched 512 GB, for no reason I can acertain, but that's how it's done), I would only be upgrading to 1.5GB, not 2GB...Good thing I don't have any money for an upgrade...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

short little entry

I hate colds.

Henry can play the tambourine.

Here's a great blog about riding the steam trains of China (via BoingBoing)

Here is the web page of my latest customer.

Geodesic design software.

I haven't used it yet, and it was annoying to jump through all the hoops, but Acrylic is free and from the 5 minutes I've spent with it looks pretty cool...Oh, it's a vector/raster drawing program...Free is a heck of a lot cheaper than buying Illustrator or CorelDraw.

Night Night.

Friday, September 30, 2005

How my mind works

Henry and were just watching TV. On screen they were counting, 1,2, and then asked what comes next. Henry said "six", which is wrong, as the answer was three.
But if we take Henry's answer to be true, we get:

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Computer Love

Yes, I'm blogging, stop holding the gun to my head. I have also re-enabled comments, please be nice.
I bought a new computer. Yes, dude, I got a dell. The price seemed low enough and my old Dell (750mhz PIII, Win 98se) just wasn't pulling its weight anymore. I figured out what I wanted and found a coupon code by searching for "Dell Coupon Codes" on Google. This resulted in a 35% off coupon code that saved a bit of money (but not 35% since they usually give you 10-20% off anyway). Dell also threw in a 19" flatscreen (analog) monitor.
Here's what I got:
Dell Dimension 5100 Series
Intel® Pentium® 4 Processor 630 w/HT Technology (3.0GHz,800FSB)
Memory 1GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 400MHz (4x256M)
Keyboard Dell USB Keyboard
Monitors FREE UPGRADE! 19 inch E193FP Analog Flat Panel
Video Cards 256MB PCI Express™ x16 (DVI/VGA/TV-out) ATI Radeon X600 SE HyperMemory
Hard Drives 80GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200RPM)
Operating System Microsoft® Windows® XP Media Center 2005 Edition
Mouse Dell Optical USB Mouse
Network Interface Integrated Intel® PRO 10/100 Ethernet
Modem 56K PCI Data Fax Modem
CD or DVD Drive Dual Drives: 16x DVD-ROM Drive + 16x DVD+/-RW w/dbl layer write capability
Sound Card Integrated Audio with Dolby Digital 7.1 capability
Total $791.20 (would have been closer to $1000 without the coupon code)

Annoyances:No recovery discs were shipped with the PC. They say you don't need them anymore as the hard drive has a hidden partition with the recovery software. This is fine unless your hard drive dies, in which case you are completely screwed (and it has happened to me in the past). So I asked Dell to send me some recovery discs and they did. I recommend asking the same if you order one.

The machine doesn't have a parallel/printer port. So my old printer didn't hook up. I could have bought an adapter but decided instead to buy a cheap HP 3 in 1 machine. It lacks the elegance of my old HP printer (still connected on the network), but is fast (it fairly vomits the pages in an orgy of violent clattering) and takes up less space. My old scanner connected fine but there was no way to turn it off (manufacturer wanted $$ for a disc that allowed me to run it on XP). I also hated my old scanner.

When getting the new computer up and running I had to restart it no less than 6 times during all the software registration, installation and updates. If you don't have high speed internet (I do)don't buy a new computer because you will never be able to update windows.
All told it took me 2 days to get it running to my satisfaction and with all my old preferences, etc.
The fonts seemed pixelated on the new screen. After some hunting I found I had to turn on "Clear Type"
I still am not 100% happy with my contrast and brightness levels on the new monitor. But it is big!
Other than those issues, I love the new machine. The 19" flat panel has much more real estate than a 19" CRT. The new machine isn't beige either. All my old peripherals were beige. The only beige left is the speakers from the old dell I'm using on this machine. It is incredibly quiet. XP is really cool. (yes, I'm late to the party) I'll probably never use all the media center features though. It is much faster on the graphics intensive programs I use.

I still need to get another gig of ram, Dell charges more than I also want to install a 2nd hard drive for daily backups. Weekly backups get burned to DVD (4.7 gigs! amazing), and distributed to the network.

On to other matters.
Max has been sleeping better the past week, He is crawling (at 6 months!). Henry has been picking out which shoes he wants to wear for the past half hour.I am monumentally behind in my work. I have a book review to write, have to set up my new Taig CNC mill, make some new index plates and generally spiff up my web pages.

Henry has a knock-knock joke, his first:"Knock-Knock, who's there"
It peters out after that. He also can now boot up his PC, which is now in his room, start his games and play(learn). I never thought I would live in a world where a toddler has his own networked computer, but I do.

Here are some links I have been collecting:

I recently switched over to Thunderbird for my email, here is a good guide.
Here is a rather interesting surplus tool store, read the history.
This is the "Gallery of Transport Loss", wonderful pictures and stories of transport loss.
Kid's Web Japan has some good japanese lessons for kids (older kids)
Korea for Kids isn't quite as spiffy, but is useful.

Monday, September 19, 2005

deposit slips

I received some new checks today. The deposit slips that are supplied with the checks only have space for about 6 checks - the rest taken up by an itemized cash deposit section. You know, sometimes I have to deposit more than 6 checks at once! So I just wrote down the other check in a glaringly large blank space on the deposit slip. Now you say "You could get some more deposit slips from the bank", but they treat you like you're some sort of identity criminal everytime you ask for any forms, and rarely want to give you more than one at a time.
People whinge about how medicine has become impersonal, but I am much more concerned about impersonal banking.

Max is still not sleeping. He is teething though, as evidenced by the full drool-bucket we keep around his neck.

Fran and Joe (Felice's parents) are visiting. Henry keeps calling her "Grandma June", because it's hard to understand that he has two grandmas, although when pressed he admits it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Lazy Blogger

Yes, it's been a while. I lost a bit of steam with the whole comment fracas and then parenting Max kicked into high gear. I think posts will come more frequently now. Felice and I haven't been getting much sleep lately (any sleep) and that seems to effect my creativity/humour. But enough about me.

Nope, not enough. I'm 39 now and no one sent me any of the swell presents I asked for. Shame on you all. I did decide to buy myself a new computer (from Dell) that hasn't arrived yet. It should make my life more streamlined although I'm dreading migrating everything over from this machine. One thing to note, if you are shopping for a Dell (or anything else) look online for coupon/promo codes, I was able to cut about 35% from the price by using a code I found here.

I just switched over from Outlook Express to Thunderbird. OE was losing track of some of the larger email folders I have (the most used ones, for my business) and I decided to try out TB. It is much better in my opinion, although we'll see what happens when I switch to using XP on the new computer. Like Firefox you have to look all over the web for little widgets that make the program work the way you want, I found a preview pane button after a bit of searching.
TB does seem a bit safer than OE and the junk mail settings are useful.

Fran and Joe (Felice's parents) are coming for a week visit tomorrow. I think that means I'll be able to get more stuff done....

Oh and here's a paper crafts blog that has links to many new fun projects I'll never do...

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The utility of Google maps

I just received an email from a customer who was awaiting a package in Metairie Lousiana
UPS tracking showed that it was signed for on the friday before Katrina (he had it delivered to a business), but the customer had intelligently decided to bug out to relatives in Austin that day (where he just emailed me from) and didn't know if the package had been delivered or not. By using Google maps "Katrina" button I was able to see that the business is above water, which is probably an insignificant bit of good news to the customer. This is as far as I know the first natural disaster that has recent publicly accessable satellite footage searcheable through the internet by address.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Are you prepared?

I've been too busy to blog lately what with both boys having colds and Max teething (which means not very much sleep, or rather none at all...) Anyway I just thought I'd mention that if you aren't prepared for something like Katrina (or the equivalent earthquake, fire, icestorm, etc) then nows a good time to get together some emergency supplies in the hope you'll never need them. Here's a good post from Winds of Change on what might be a good starting point. I wish everyone in NO had a water purifier on hand, but clearly they didn't. But you should have one, I do. Anyway, time to make dinner in what seems a comparitive luxury (kitchen, electricity, fridge, food, water).

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Safe to post?

Ok, I'll just pretend nothing ever happened.

How much sleep did I get last night? Not enough. Why the heck don't babies get born with all their teeth? Having them burst through one at a time really seems to be a design error. We had Nome and Darrell over in the afternoon yesterday. Darrell brought Henry two toy motorcycles. Whenever Henry sees a motorcycle he says "Darrell" because Darrell has given Henry about 6 motorcycles over the past two years.

Later that evening Cassie, Jim, Michelle and Alexi brought dinner, which was lovely. I showed the women my St. Marks yearbook and they noticed that Storm Large went to school with me. They told me she is now up in Portland and has a band. Yet another old friend who leads a more exciting life than I do.

I'm probably going to go out tonight to hang with my shop buddies, which will be a nice break from the constant baby wrangling. I just hope I don't fall asleep driving over there and crash into a ditch.

Do you know enough about pumps?
What about planar machines and topology?

The Easy Off people sent me a $3.00 and a $1.50 coupon for any of their fine family of products to make up for my disappointment with the Stovetop Cleanser. I think I probably do qualify as a crank.

Tired of plain old square holes, how about some odd shaped cutouts?

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Let's start again

I had to disable comments for a while. Some people have taken umbrage at the last few posts I wrote and rather than subject my friends to both my histrionic anger and the obscenity laden comments that followed I decided I would just erase the whole thing.
The internet is a wild beast, you never know when something you say will get transported around the world, raising ire. Ah well. I'll have to think first and post after counting to 10.

Yesterday was a great day. I was able to effectively parent both boys in spite of the onset of Max's teething. Lifting weights has helped prepare for the inevitable need to hold both boys in my arms at the same time. Eric came over with Marcel in the morning which was a great help until the ensuing meltdown. I did let Henry nap, which meant that he was up late again. Oh well.
Today is just a lazy day at home.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Not too tired...

To post a short entry...
Last night wasn't that bad - Max had one long screaming wakeup but the rest of the night was just some very short sleep interruptions. Henry didn't go to sleep until late and at one point I almost broke my collarbone when I had to intercept him en route to takling Max. Today was fine too, Henry is a tad jealous and a bit needy, but I can't say as I blame him. Max sleeps, eats and spends time being cute and awake. So far each episode of crying is solved with either food or a diaper change. I was surprised at how much I had forgotten of Henry's baby behaviour, but it is all coming back to me, especially how moist you get when holding a 4 month old. I'll probably go to sleep a bit early (like in 15 minutes) than I normally do. Work was light today which certainly helped. Last evening Ann and Eric brought food and today Ann and Siri (a different Ann, pretty common name in that generation) brought some dinner for us. We have been eating a diet high in carbohydrates. I put a small amount of pictures of max up. Although I know it can all go sideways any minute (like one of the kids gets a cold, or I do), so far it seems easier than when we were parental novices. I bet I get a colossal cosmic smackdown for my hubris.

Here is the best blog ever (via Althouse/Instapundit)

This gives you a sense of perspective when you think work is hard.

How to make a rope knurling tool, and a rope knurl. This blog is, if anything, all about knurling.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

That New Baby Smell

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves, here is Maxwell Aaron Yang Carter in all his glory:

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Spam Filtering, redux

Peak has finally figured out how to completely eliminate spam. Their new Barracuda spam filter is filtering all email on their system. I'm all for clever names for products, and "Barracuda" sounds really efficient in killing spam. Let's face it though, no one has domesticated a real barracuda completely: "Hand-feeding of barracuda at this wreck has domesticated and emboldened the fish significantly. Never dive with flashy jewelry. Keep your hands clenched and close to your body, as the barracuda are known to snap at fingers (thinking they're being fed again)."

I called tech support and asked the guy if I would ever have email again, to which he replied "no, probably not" in the weary voice of a boy who has had his finger in a dike for several years, the city fathers having decided it's cheaper to employ a small boy's finger than repair a leak.

All of this reminds me that I wanted to provide a useful link for all who deal with situations that loosen the bowels, the Toilet Paper Encyclopedia.

Two days until we have our new son amongst us, many preparations going on, I have to reassemble the crib without the benefit of instructions. The camcorder batteries are charged. Henry is largely clueless in spite of our constant prattling about his new baby brother. Felice and I hope to avoid having aneurisms from the stress, at least until we get back from the airport.
The lack of email is certainly compounding the stress as I do need email to make money, and money to raise a family. I'm lucky in that I'm an optomist and confident that ill will all work out.

I was going to talk about "The Machinist" and "Steamboy" which we watched today, but I won't except to say that both are good movies with some flaws. Maybe I'll write more tomorrow about them as they marinate in my brain.

And here is a paper cut steam engine (via Make blog)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Baby coming! Stovetop cleaning and paper folding.

We received the call that our new child will be flying into Eugene on tuesday afternoon. I'm trying not to become panicked, although I have completely forgotten how to care for a baby. I'm sure it will all come back to me.

In an attempt to defer lunacy I spent come time cleaning our stovetop. I tried using "EASY-OFF® ONE STEP™ Stovetop Cleaner", which is described thusly:

"EASY-OFF® ONE STEP™ Stovetop Cleaner is specially formulated to clean tough cooked-on food spills and splatters, yet is gentle to your stovetop surface. It's ideal for use on glass-ceramic, enamel, and stainless steel surfaces. Plus, when used regularly, EASY-OFF® ONE STEP™ Stovetop Cleaner helps prevent stains from setting, making future cleaning easier."

In reality is is a smelly blue goop that had absolutely no effect on the burnt on stains on our cooktop. The directions state:

"Shake well before using. For food spill and splatters apply EASY-OFF® ONE STEP™ Stovetop Cleaner directly to the stovetop surface. With a clean damp cloth or paper towel, wipe the stovetop surface until clean"

I wiped it off, got a razor blade and scraped the burnt-on grime off, it took about a half hour. So razor blade good, easy-off bad.

Other than that I'm pretty much boring today.
Here is a cool article on unfolding paper polyhedra
And here is some paper folding software.
There are tons of Japanese sies that have downloadable paper projects, like this site from Yamaha. Good projects when the kids get older, and cheap!

Finally, for those unwillimg to get me either the BB machine gun or the Emmert vise for my birthday, is another perfect present: the Curta calculator.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Earthworm Tractors

On Friday I caught the movie "Earthworm Tractors" on
TCM. You can search the TCM site (do a "library search") for it and see some (or all?) of it online. It's a comedy:
Earthworm Tractors (1936)
CAST: Joe E. Brown, June Travis, Guy Kibbee.
Director: Ray Enright.
At the urging of his ambitious girlfriend, a salesman starts hawking tractors.BW-69m

It's based on the Alexander Botts stories by William Hazlett Upson that appeared in the Saturday Evening Post back in the 20's-50's

Anyway it primed the pump for us to head out to the Brooks Steam up. Here's Henry and Me, sweating in the heat (Eric and Marcel to the right) That big flywheel is whizzing around behind us:

It was a fun day and Henry had a meltdown when we left all the trains, tractors and engines. We didn't take a lot of pics as it took all of our energy to manhandle Henry in the (high 90's) heat.

At the flea market I found a Whitworth thread gage, which I'll never use but love to have just in case. Joseph Whitworth is one of those men who had an incredible impact on human history yet remain largely unknown (outside of their field) due people's ignorance of engineering history.

There was a cool woodworking multimachine there, lathe, tablesaw, bandsaw and? all powered by a big old engine:

Later on when we got home Henry discovered some boxes:

So it was another fun weekend for all.

I've been communicating with a long lost relative, related through my Great-great-grandfather Aaron Carter (click link for larger)

So I had my dad send me a picture of him. I threaten Felice that I'm going to grow sideburns like that someday...

Now it's Monday and I have to work....

Saturday, July 30, 2005


I saw this site in my page referral statistics: "Nick Carter Overweight Information and Resources" and I cried and cried.

Hot today and Henry is happy just playing in the house so I think we'll chill out here unless he gets really bored.

The Art of Motion Control is having a lot of fun using stepper motors for art.

I was doing some book keeping yesterday and noticed that one customer's bill was $48.02 and the other's was $42.08

The Canada-America society must have my name via UofT, I received an invitation to a Black-Tie "Canada Gala" in Seattle. I don't think I'll be going.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

email problems

"Dear PEAK customer,PEAK Internet engineers will conduct ongoing maintenance on network servers during the hours of 12:01 am and 5:00 am each Wednesday morning. This window is designed for engineers to conduct periodic system checks, improve efficiencies, introduce new hardware and generally expand and secure all services.During these windows short interruptions may occur, but we use this low traffic time to minimize downtime. Interruptions will be limited to a few minutes."

Which is why I have no new email messages after 1:00AM wednesday and my email is still down as of 9:36AM. You would think that Saturday night would be better as they could then spend all of Sunday (a non-business day) catching the cascading errors that are bound to occur.

Hey, it's not like people run businesses on the internet, right?

A least I can access the Web, last wednesday morning I kept getting kicked off every couple of minutes.

I guess the upside is it does cut down on spam, what with not receiving any messages.

The Brooks "Steam Up" is happening over the next two weekends, we'll be going on Sunday.

What with all the fun people have been having with Google Maps, I found this neat USGS site with the national map (slow, but exhaustive). Why I can't download free USGS maps is beyond me - I did pay for them with my taxes after all.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Nothing Much

Henry is cute these days. The other night he was dancing and singing to Haydn's 68th symphony in B flat. He later stood at the piano and pounded on the keys while singing "Happy, Sad, Happy, Sad..." His funniest moment was when he woke up in the middle of the night and screamed "Stella!" for no real reason...

I took Henry into the shop last night and had him turn a part down on the lathe, and drill a hole with the drill press. He doesn't have quite enough strength to turn the lathe handwheel so I had to help. It was a bit of juggling as I also had to hold his safety glasses on his head and keep his free hand from zipping into the spinning chuck.

I guess it's stupid to observe that children are cute. But they are! When they're not trying to kill you.

Make magazine #3 was delivered to me today, with my article, somewhat cut down as I sense they didn't want to waste the space on my (insane) magnum opus, although they have (as I said in my previous post) put the rest of it up online. It's nice to see my name in print. I hope that the link to my website will drive some traffic.

I had a customer come by this afternoon to pay me for a CNC mill and see the one I have running. The part I was making came out ok, and while usually I get a spectacular crash whenever I demonstrate the mill, nothing went wrong.

Here's a good article on polishing aluminum

Friday, July 22, 2005

A Shop Too Far

Well I received a quote from my contractor for the shop building I'd love to have. The quote was unfortunately a little high when weighed against the amount of money I actually have. So it'll probably be a year or more until I get the funds together. What's really terrible is how rational the quote was, each item alone seems like a good deal, but none can be excluded. Oh well. I could afford the shop if I did without electricity, doors and a roof. And that would be good, because electricity without a roof is kind of dangerous.
Sales have been up this year, so we'll see where I am in the winter...There really is no rush, at least until Henry and sibling are old enough to demand more space.

On a positive note, Make magazine has published my article on square holes as bonus website content, so you can read it here.

What with it being so hot lately, here is some trance music made by a distant cousin of mine.
This morning wasn't hot, it was distinctly cool! We had thunderstorms all night that scared the dog and watered the lawn (as well as cutting down on the road dust). Now it's back to the 80's which makes me happy, as that seems the coolest weather in the country.

We went to yard sales this morning, I bought a tenoning tool, a threadbox, a 1/2" drill chuck, some punches, a dial test indicator with magnetic base and a small Lego Technics model/set/kit. I better list the stuff on Ebay to have any chance of ever having a shop.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Yes, it's hot. Not as hot as Death Valley but still quite hot. Yesterday I had to take Henry to the park while Felice had a doctors appt. She had arranged for me to meet another mom there. I waved at this mom and acted like she should know me, but it was the wrong mom. I think I scare people sometimes. The right mom showed up and all was well. She actually publishes a magazine about moms. In spite of this we got along quite well and the children played.
The rest of the day I spent sweating, motionless.

Today isn't as hot as yesterday, so I'm actually able to work without fear of sweat-related electrocution. My to-do list is uninspiring, I did all my book-keeping, backed up some files, faxed some orders and only had a couple of customer e-mails. I need to bake more muffins but I think I'll wait until the evening. I like to have a muffin for breakfast as it's quick and easy. It is not quick and easy to bake 24 muffins at a time. I figure it all averages out.

I read a great book over the weekend, Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker's War, 1941-1945 by Leo Marks. It is about the code-makers of the SOE during WW2, the problems they have with "indecipherables", that is messages that they receive from agents which are garbled and unreadable in some way. Written in a lively, personal and somewhat profane tone.

Oh, by the way, did I mention what a nerd I am? I was delighted to watch the premiers of the latest season of Battlestar Galactica, SG and SG Atlantis. As others have said, the two SG shows are like candy, but BSG is like steak. I'm a vegetarian but I still concur. BSG is the best show on TV today. If you're a nerd.
Which I am.

Anyway, here is a great page all about Emmert vises. If you are shopping for a birthday present for me, look no further. Then again since no one bothered to buy me a BB machine gun last birthday I'm not holding out any hopes.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Terrible Ending

I like to read Sci-Fi novels when I have a minute or two, so I picked up my copy of Fred Saberhagen's "Century of Progess" (50 cents at the thrift store) and gave it a read. The book was great, right up until the climax when the novel abruptly ended. The novel ended so abruptly I scanned back through the last chapter to see if I'd passed over something or if a page was missing. But no, it just had a terrible ending.

My other reading, in cloaca, is "'Chips' and Slivers, 30 years of Logging Recollections" by Jim DeSautel. It's more a collection of tales, tall and otherwise, with salty language and ethnic insensitivity. It is a good little slice of a lifestyle that is vanishing in the Northwest.

I was able to pry myself away from the computer for a couple of hours today and went into Corvallis with Felice & Henry. I walked from the gym (where Felice and Henry stayed for an hour) to the OSUsed sale where I purchased a trackball mouse for a buck. I should have bought the other one there as they are worth money (I looked it up on Ebay when I returned home). They had some very cool classroom charts from the 30's of human anatomy but I couldn't figure out where the heck I could hang them up in the house so I didn't buy them.

Speaking of 3D computer graphics, look at this gallery of 3D models. They aren't real objects, just computer graphics...

Speaking of WW2, here's a great history site.

Ok, I wasn't speaking of either, but that should be obvious as you are reading this blog.

We have some birds nesting in our woodstove (probably chimney swifts) and the little babies are incredibly noisy (presumably) every time they get a feeding. It's like they built the nest on top of my head it's so loud. I guess I should rig up a webcam-on-a-stick and see if I can get some shots of them...

Friday, July 08, 2005

Too Busy

Geez I've been busy. I spent yesterday in the shop making a ring arbor and writing it up for my site, the day before was a fun day of grocery shopping. Monday and Tuesday? I have no clue what I did, but I must have done something.

We watched the movie "Hitch". Wow that was a boring movie. Felice loved all the romantic (crap) elements. Tonight we're having the neighbors over for dinner. I have a bunch of ingredients but no clue what I'll make. I better just make a whole bunch of unrelated side dishes.
Or frozen burritos.

Today we went to an annual yard sale. I bought a new spot welder for $65.00 which is a steal, and then traded it to Kent for a smaller one he had that will be of more use to me. I've always wanted a spot welder. Yesterday I scored a horizontal milling spindle for my benchmaster milling machine. (link is to James Riser's site, very cool, you should surf through it).

Anyway, here is a big timewaster of a stupid web game

And Here's a site on scanning Michelangelo's David

Sunday, July 03, 2005


I have completely gone through, reorganized and reshelved all the books in the house. I purged about 2-3%, which still filled up about two large totes. I have also inhaled several liters of dust and expect to shortly go into some sort of total histamine shock. But it won't be as bad as the shock of actually discarding books.
I have a rather large reference library, most of which is redundant given the ubiquity of the internet in my life. But when a huge EMP pulse (caused by a martian invasion) destroys all the computers in the world I'll still be able to look up the atomic weight of molybdenum.

Why would I look that up? It's the intelligence test the invading martians will be using to determine who to eat(fail) or enslave (pass).

There are still a number of books I don't want, but are valuable enough that I won't flog them off on the local book pirates (dealers). I'll store them for a time such as I need money enough to list them on Amazon. Or I'll give them to the martian overlords to use as toilet paper, because believe me, they use a lot of TP after eating humans all day.

Henry has delighted me by becoming interested in Tintin. I took Adventures of Tintin: Cigars of the Pharaoh out of the library and he is obsessed with it. It's not the greatest cartoon, but relatively faithful to the globe trotting adventure of the book.

Speaking of Anime, which I wasn't, strictly speaking, I am obsessed myself, with "Paranoia Agent" Which I can't really describe. If you like to have NPR tell you what to think, here's their take on it.

If you are as dull as I am, you'll enjoy these manufacturing videos.

I'm sorry if I offended any Martians. You guys are ok, it's the folks from Uranus who I can't stand...Which is why you need the TP. Ha! Please don't vaporize me.

Friday, July 01, 2005


Well I'm waiting for a customer to show up here, the third visitor to the shop this week. It's fun to show people things and help them out, but I am (as usual, mom) a bit tired today.
Henry is dreaming a lot now, and often shouting things in his sleep. Two nights ago he started shouting "Jump! Jump! Jump!" in the middle of the night, and jump we did. If we put a time lapse camera on him in the night you would see him orbiting all around the bed, and orbiting around his own center. The boy is active, and I think he burns more calories as he sleeps than when awake.
The neighbors are having a yard sale and I was compelled by the imp of perversity to buy a $20.00 dulcimer. I used to play the dulcimer a bit in my hippy(loser) days, and I figured it's a good instrument for a kid, as it plays in tune, just like my other fave kid instrument, the harmonica. A kid will make noise when given any instrument, but it's best if the noise is not dissonant. I hope I can maintain a no pennywhistly/recorder/violin rule as Henry and the sibling grow up.
Speaking of the sibling and of waiting, we found out that our paperwork is delayed by a spelling error, not of our making. The agency tells us not to worry, that it will all get ironed out, but we'd like to start being a two carseat family before Felice and I get put in an old age home.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

turning gold

Our friend Miche came over today, she is a jeweler who transitioned from selling at the Saturday Market to selling entirely online. I sold her a Taig lathe several years ago and she came over to see if I could help her with some jewelry operations on the lathe. We worked at milgraining and truing some gold ring castings up. It was interesting work and I think I learned more than she did.
You will note that I didn't provide a link to "milgrain", which is because there isn't a lot of info out there on the web. Basically it is embossing a decorative pattern of dots with a rolling forming tool against the ring's periphery. It is somewhat like "knurling".

Did you catch the latest episode of "History Detectives" last night? The segment on the "poison pin" showed a guy running a Taig lathe. One of those moments that only excites me.

I meant to tell my mom about this page, and it is a great resource for those of us with old-condiment-phobia

Our e-friend Lorrie started a new blog, it's funny and much better than this one, in fact you should erase my blog from your favorites and add hers.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Tales of the City

We went to Portland on tuesday, first stop was the Oregon Metro Zoo. The directions were pretty good until I got to the part where they didn't tell me I had to cross 4 lanes of traffic to get the exit. The Zoo itself was somewhat uneven. Henry had a great time of course but often you wouldn't see any animal in a particular display, or if you did it was a partial view of their hindquarters:

Those are Rhinoceri.

We had several odd experiences, one was walking into the bat "cave" and finding it full of saffron robed buddhist monks. The other was walking from the already opressive heat of Portland into the 110 degree 1000% humidity of the "african swamp", which Henry loved and wanted to stay in until my head exploded. Many of the displays needed windex. Felice and I both loved the various otters, two of whom we saw sleeping/floating against the tank window. Damn they are cute! Here is a meerkat:

Henry got to pet some goats:

After we left the zoo (open until 6:00 but they don't chase you out until 7:00) we went into the city to eat and meet up with our friend Bev, who was putting us up for the night. Bev is in the Peasants , an urban country/bluegrass/rock/soul band. The lodgings were great, although being a reborn country boy the noise of the city seemed opressive. Here's a pic of Bev and Felice wrestling with Henry:

Bev will kill me, but I should mention that she is single, good looking, and ready for marriage. She is one of the finest people we know. Or at least that will put up with us.

We woke up the next morning, drove into the downtown area, parked, went to the federal building, returned to the car, placed Felice's swiss army knife in the car, reparked in a better spot, returned to the federal building, waited with a horde of other adoptive parents and then finalized Henry's citizenship paperwork. It was a huge waste of time and a bureaucratic moment.

We then walked over to Powell's Technical Annex and I bought Henry this cool toy (the Sparklz).

We then drove home and collapsed for the rest of the day.

Monday, June 20, 2005


Henry had two tantrums today, which officially marks the onset of the full "terrible twos" (which I've herad can go on for 18 years). He refused to wear a diaper and wanted his wet swim trunks. Consistent and good parents that we are we didn't give in and endured his screaming for almost 1/2 an hour. He finally calmed down and we got diapers on him. Now of course he needs to take his antibiotics, which he also refuses to do. We managed to sneak a dose in his juice earlier, but now he says the juice is "yucky juice". I hope I don't have to inject the medicine down his throat again. He's worse than the cat, but at least he doesn't have claws. If children had claws and fangs we'd all be screwed. What if it's not the opposable thumb that marks humankind, but the lack of claws and fangs?

I finally found the perfect fathers day gift. ...If your dad was a whaler.

I spent a while on Sunday going through these inventive pages. I need to ask him how his parents nurtured his zany creativity. I came across them via BoingBoing, which I now check daily.

Friday, June 17, 2005


This is a pretty futuristic announcement!
Better get Henry to start building robots while he's young, it'll probably be a case of you building them or them building you...

Thursday, June 16, 2005


I haven't done much in the shop lately and was enjoying the visit with my parents the last few weeks. Today we took Henry to the doctor and found he has a swollen parotid gland, which explains why he's been so cranky lately. He has been waking up almost once an hour the past few nights and had a low grade fever. We are praying the anti-biotics work quickly. Of course neither of us thought to check his glands - I remember as a child my parents and the doctor were always checking my glands, but somehow it never occurred to either of us. So if your kid is sick, check his glands.

Other than that here is a cool page on shooting through drywall and other substances with various pistols and rifles. For some reason it entertained me.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Yet Another Gear

Now that I have figured out how to use the Math Plugin for Rhino I am able to draw the involute of a base circle. Here is a rendering of a gear I drew:

As you can see I'm still not very good at making a rendering look pretty, but I think a 3D gear floating in space is really cool.
Now if I could only figure out how to make cool mathematical models out of paper plates...

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Brio Electric Locomotive Cleaning

We have a problem with an excess of cat and dog hair in our house (next pet will be hairless, dog or cat). A further problem is that the hair ends up tangled in Henry's Brio electric locomotive, causing balky or no movement. So here is how I clean a Brio electric locomotive.

Remove the battery cover and battery

Grind the tip of an Allen wrench so it has a triangular tip that matches the screw heads on the underside of the train. It doesn't take much and a slight taper will help it lock into the screw so it doesn't strip the screw. They do not have a lot of torque and are easy to remove.

Invert the locomotive on a block and remove the screws. Notice the "Do Not Remove" warning sticker. Ignore it, it's a $15.00 toy and it will clog up all the time. Swedish engineering does not take poor housekeeping into consideration when designing a child's toy. I guess all the engineers have housekeepers. Elitist jerks! Making poor women slave away in drudgery so that their toys will run without a hitch.

See the geartrain, upside down. Notice all the hairs wrapped up in the gear train.

The bottom half of the train. You need to move the gear clusters over to it, starting with the drive wheel axle and continuing in order from back to front. Clean each gear cluster of hair and dirt as you go. If the gears fall off of a particular cluster, thank your lucky stars that you already have a digital picture. This is a good time to mention taking pictures as you go. The gear clusters will obviously need to be revolved 180 degrees so that they are a mirror image of the placement on the top half. (In other words, don't just move them over, flip them over)

Here the gears have been cleaned and replaced in the bottom half.

Here is another view of the completed assembly of the bottom half.

The ball of hair I removed and the tip of the Allen wrench.

Henry helps put the battery compartment back on.

All Done!

Friday, June 03, 2005


Ok, so everyone is talking about the DIY revolution. As I have posted before, people who write for a living are a little behind the curve, as this revolution has been going on as long as there has been the opposable thumb, or at least as long as americans have been americans...

In this context I thought about the people in my neighborhood, I have one next door neighbor who collects Econoline pickups, another that has a nitromethane dragster, a friend about a mile away who has built his own sawmill and cementboard shear (as well as hundreds of other items). I get together on thursday nights with a bunch of guys who have made all sort of interesting items derived from their lifestyles, including my friend Kent who makes sewing accessories, cookie cutters and machine tool accessories. Another Thursday nighter, George, who "has forgotten more than I'll ever know" (that old chestnut) has just finished an electric tricycle as well as replaced most of the plastic parts in his Geo Metro with hand finished aluminum parts. All around the state there are hundreds if not thousands of people who are making things unaware that they are part of any DIY movement or revolution.
Among my customers, who span the globe, most are engaged in the modification or production of items for their own use, whether it be work, hobby, life or all three.

I'm glad the mainstream has picked up on this, and those of us who were always there say "welcome to the party!" even if you are a bit behind the curve...

Monday, May 30, 2005


I played with Rhino a bit today and did some of the tutorials. The software is incredibly easy to use. Too bad my sculptural abilities aren't that great. Here is my first rendering of the Rubber Duck model
The whole control point approach to deforming solids obviously is going to take some time to learn. Many years ago I embarked on a series of sculpting projects where I made a whole bunch of skulls in gemstone. Since then I haven't done anything 3D at all that wasn't a machine part. So I'll have to access that part of my brain again...

My parents will be here this afternoon, so we cleaned up the house (more an excuse to clean as I don't think they care that much). Had a lovely dinner last night at the (drag racing) neighbor's house, Henry made some great messes.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Geeks behind the curve

I spent some time this morning posting comments on various blogs, spurred by this post (via Make Blog), several blogs have commented on it (here, here and the original post here). what amazes me is how clueless the posters are that the revolution in home CNC fabrication has been underway for at least 5 years. (see my CNC links here, and Taig user pages and pictures for more CNC home use).
I think it shows the degree to which the fabrication end of design has been overlooked by most techie types. Even with a small manual home shop you can design components without once resorting to duct-tape or the Dremel tool (not that there's anything wrong with duct-tape), and with a CNC mill you can make incredible things. If these people would save their pennies for a small machine tool instead of buying the latest Ipod/Imac/Iblah and the 15 disc limited edition Lord of the Rings DVD interactive trivia game they would be able to actually effect their environment instead of just talking about it. That sounds pretty harsh, I know, but someone needs a wakeup call: "The Future is Here, Dammit!"

Saturday, May 28, 2005


I'm letting Henry sleep in so I can have some mental health time this morning. My loving parents are coming to visit on Monday after my cousin Peter's sentencing, I mean his wedding this weekend.

Kent sent me this link that should make those that are merely cluttered feel like pikers.

Figlet has a great post for those of you who need to learn about the international adoption process. I recommend studying it thouroughly before asking stupid questions. I wish I could write such bitter posts without worrying about offending my stupid friends.

Just the other night I was telling the guys at Kents about my obsession with reruns of "What's My Line" on GSN. I took much ribbing over my love of an old gameshow, but this WSJ editorial made me feel justified about my historical interest in the show.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Goop Eye

Henry was over at Marcel's house yesterday and their cat has a goopy eye and was in his carrier awaiting transport to the vet. So all last night Henry kept saying "cat, goop eye, vet", over and over again. For our cat, Henry said "goop eye, no"

The picture of Henry and Trevin having a slap fight has been making rounds all over the internet. I keep seeing traffic to my web pages from all these odd forums, from goth-metal band forums, to NFL fans. It seems when you type "slap fight" into google it is the most evocative picture of a slap fight displayed. I think I need to take the picture down, but I also think it's really funny. As for why people need a funny picture of a slap fight? Couldn't tell you.

We had friends stop by this afternoon so that's all for now.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


I'm a professional writer now, I received my first check for an article I wrote in the Home Shop Machinist. Can my ego get any bigger? I finally finished the gear article, I'll let it sit a day, reread it to make sure I'm not insane and submit it. I have about 5 articles waiting for publication.
Writing is easier money than making jewelry or digging ditches, but as with all the jobs I do it won't pay the bills all on its lonesome.

The weather is lovely today, Henry is not sick anymore. I spent the day updating my web pages.

Here is a spam-ku:
Pre-Open Stock to Watch
New to the Stock Game
Unbelievable Investors Alert

And another:
You Have Been Sent an Invitation
Hamsters are Running for their Lives
Don't Sell Your Blood

(each line from the subject headers of spam I received today)

Sunday, May 22, 2005

I'm Not That Tired, Mom!

My loving mother complains whenever I say that I'm tired on my blog. I'm glad to report that I am currently wide awake, full of coffee and cookies.

Here is an uplifting story about one curmudgeon's day teaching some valuable lessons to a neighbor's kid. It made Felice cry.

I am almost done with Phyllis Diller's autobiography, it is a fantastic story and history lesson. I now need to find Bob Hope's autobiography. I saw Bobe Hope deal with lefty hecklers at the big Earthquake benefit in San Francisco, I am pretty sure that he flipped the audience the bird at one point. He made a bunch of golf jokes and a reference to his friend Ronald Reagan that didn't go over that well... I'm glad I had a chance to see him once.

Do you have any questions about aseptic packaging? I never realized that "tetra-pak" referred to the tetrahedral shape of the first aseptic packages. when you have a kid you learn all about juice boxes. Why do children prefer juice in boxes?

Friday, May 20, 2005


If you ever want to crack Felice up, lip-synch to opera.

I spent the day writing the article on involute gears, almost done. I now see gears when I close my eyes. Other than that we are all still sick, Felice is off to the market tomorrow and Henry and I will stay home and play.

We watched several episodes of "Kung Fu" tonight. It is amazing how cheesy a show it is, yet compelling.

Felice and I both started reading Phyllis Diller's autobiography,"Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse". I'm only in about ten pages but it had me laughing almost every paragraph.

Sleep now.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


Henry now says "careful", or rather "cawefuw" when he does dangerous stuff like climbing up the bookcases or jumping off the bed. I guess it's a first step.

We were officially the last people in the world to watch "Team America", tonight. It was very funny, and quite evenhanded. The Pearl Harbor song was my favorite - I hated that movie.

We are all still sick. If you don't hear from me for a week hire somone to clean our mummified bodies out of the house.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Today, sick as I am, I milled a 16 diametral pitch , 20 tooth 14-1/2 pressure angle involute gear out of flat aluminum.


Exciting, huh? I even milled a second and they mesh perfectly. Wow, my life is EXTREME!
It took 12 minutes to mill it out with a 1/16" two flute endmill running at 10K rpm and a feed rate of 5 inches per minute.

Here is the best machine job shop logo I have ever seen

Other than the profoundity of gear milling, today has just been a day of snot and aches.
It has been raining for the past month and a half. I ad-oregon!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


We all have colds, stuffy noses, scratchy throats. Misery. So not much today to write about.

I did some more involute research and have succeeded in drawing a very close approximation of a perfect involute gear. Next step is to mill two out of aluminum and see how well the overall method works. I hope to have it all tied up into another (boring) article soon.

Did you know Google will do research for a fee? I would never be so desperate, but maybe you will be someday.

I just finished watching the latest episode of "The Shield", Glenn Close is working out well in the drama. Here is a recent interview with her about the show.

I really need to get over this cold quickly.

Monday, May 16, 2005


Today on a whim I hooked a webcam up to one of my microscopes. I need to machine a permanent adapter but I think the results came out ok.

A penny

A #10-32 tpi screw (from crest to crest is 1/32" of an inch)

Anyway, we watched "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" tonight. Henry sat with mouth agape and took about 80% of the movie in. I'm turning him into a little movie buff, or scarring him for life. It was a good cathartic-surreal-neo-60's-comedy, and Bill Murray was excellent as always. Anjelica Huston is hot. I can tell I'm middle aged now because of that.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

mundane or boring?

I am not sure whether today falls under the heading of "mundane" or "boring". Henry did not sleep well last night, his head cold kept him awake until we finally dosed him up with some tylenol. Giving a screaming child tylenol guarantees a visual similar to a volcano as the pink liquid is expelled from around his mouth. Luckily we got enough in him to quell whatever pain was causing him suffering and he fell asleep. Poor guy is dripping his weight in mucus every day.

I spent a couple of hours drafting an involute gear in Autosketch. I was somewhat stymied as I was following directions for drafting with paper and pencil, and CAD programs do not have some of the same methods. It was impossible to draw a line tangent to a curve without knowing the endpoint, luckily I remembered that a line tangent to a circle is perpendicular to a line drawn from the periphery of a circle to its center. For some reason the involute curve I drew was a little off, I'll have to do some more research.

Henry says that an orange section is like a "ju-box" (juice box), and Felice has just explained to him that it is "nature juice".

I took apart the bedroom VCR as it seems to be mutilating tapes. Once taken apart so I could run it and observe its actions it has failed to mutilate any tapes. I suspect the culprit is not the VCR but the tapes which stretch over time and suffer some rough handling from Henry. We'll see.

Now was that boring or mundane?

Friday, May 13, 2005


It's official, I'm the sort of guy who bothers busy people to ask incredibly stupid questions.
I recently got into an argument over whether there were other countries besides the U.S. which mentioned happiness in any official documents, such as a constitution. So I went to this site and emailed the owner with this question:

Hi Professor Jones,I stumbled upon your site while trying to win an argument about whether any other constitutions besides the U.S. constitution mention "pursuit of happiness" as a right. I found that the Japanese constitution also enshrines this right (not surprising considering the circumstances), and the proposed constitution of Bhutan, but was wondering if you know of any other constitutions that enumerate that right or one similar in intent if not wording.

Thanks,Nick Carter

I then received this response:

Dear Nick Carter:

If the U.S. Constitution mentions the "pursuit of happiness", it is news to me. Are you perhaps confusing the Constitution of the United Stateswith the Declaration of Independence? Among the inalienable rights ofall men that are mentioned in the second paragraph of the Declaration ofIndependence is that of the pursuit of happiness.
John Paul Jones

So now I feel like an idiot, because I know that the "pursuit of happiness" is in the Declaration, but as I was researching constitutions it got stuck in my mind that I was referring only to constitutions.
You will notice that he didn't answer my question.

Which would you, dear reader, rather be: a well meaning idiot or an unhelpful pedant?

Thursday, May 12, 2005


Busy all day, highlight was Henry using the "big boy" swing at the park for the first time, held on to the chains and didn't fall off. Other than that, I got nothing.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


My beloved cousin Peter says he is the only person reading the blog, so I should write down the gossip from Corvallis and Philomath. The sad fact is that my life, and my community are devoid of anything even approaching a gossip worthy event. To make up for that, you can read the candidate biographies for the Philomath School Board.

I found this passage interesting in a New York Times article on North Korea

Tonight, Japan's prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, played down Pyongyang's statement.
"It has been making gamesmanship sort of remarks," the prime minister said of North Korea, according to the Kyodo News Agency.

Has Koizumi read Stephen Potter? Sounds like he has.

Finally, Samrost is one of the coolest little games I have played on the web, should take you about 20 minutes. Beautiful design.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


Henry has developed a habit of whispering "Wake Up" with a very sinister intonation. He also talks about ghosts a lot, which makes me think he sees dead people. I wonder if we can make some money off of that?

Today I got creeped out by reading the manual for Rhino and listening to Sirius Classical. They were playing Alban Berg's Chamber Concerto opus #8, which is dissonant and disturbing, like something you hear in a 50's psychological thriller.

Last night I ended up surfing through Korea into Europe until I found this site that offers possibly the most disturbing toy for a child ever, Hieronymous Bosch figurines. Ok, maybe they're not intended for children, but they would be a great birthday gift.

To cap the creepy off, we watched Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events. I think the movie was a work of genius. I wish I'd seen it when I was ten or so.

Monday, May 09, 2005


Felice ordered a gift for her niece (our niece) through Amazon. Estimates had it delivered with plenty of time to spare for her birthday. Turns out the estimates are wrong, and the gifts haven't even shipped yet. You would think Amazon would let you know, but we had to figure it out by the absence of any thanks from said niece. Let's see how long it takes to get a reply to Felice's email to them...

You guys know that you can leave comments on the blog right? Can you leave comments?
That way you can insult me and my pathetic life.

We watched "Ray" yesterday. We started out watching the "extended version", but the lag between cuts when you watch it with the extra scenes really eliminated any dramatic import so we switched back to the theatrical release version. Oddly enough the movie defaults to the extended version even though it (the direction, or cutting) seems amateurish. We liked the movie, and Jamie Foxx is a great actor (and act he does!). I didn't like the way the movie ends with Ray kicking his heroin addiction, it's as if he wasn't interesting anymore once he got his life back on track. I'm as interested in how a person lives the 2nd half of their life as the first. A little more about the interactions with other performers would have been nice as well. Oh well, it's not like they made the movie for me...

Sunday, May 08, 2005


Yesterday I at a piece of pineapple and got a little fiber wedged in between two teeth. It felt like someone was prying apart my skull.

I was reading an ad for industrial robots yesterday, did you know that Fanuc has over 140,000 robots working worldwide?

Today is mothers day and I didn't call my mom. Sorry. In all fairness I have to deal with the mommy here, although again I didn't do much besides make lunch. My mom sent Felice a balloon bouquet, but Henry has made it his own special friend/tormentor.

I bought Henry a powered Brio locomotive but all he does is leave it running against an immovable object. It is imperative to have rechargeable batteries when you have a child.

I bought some new CAD software, just waiting for it to be delivered. It looks to be very versatile. Of course there will be a learning curve of a month to a year, and I'll probably have to get some new CAM software to take advantage of the features. But I need to learn, and keep learning, or perish.

Friday, May 06, 2005


Ebay kicks ass! I listed two tools today and one sold within 47 minutes and the other after only 4 hours of being listed. Of course this means that I should have set the "Buy it Now" price higher, but that's no guarantee that you'll sell it at a higher price. As it was I made a goodly profit and decreased the pile of stuff I have to list.

Sidenote: It is really hard to type when Henry is screaming "Thomassss!!!!!" at the top of his phleghmy lungs.

I also received the first order for my new 40-50-60 hole index plates which is encouraging. They are a testament to the potential of my little Taig CNC milling machine. The machine can drill the 153 holes, mill out the center hole and trepan the disc from a piece of plate in about 20 minutes, while I sit and drink coffee.

Notice how much more frequently I'm posting?

One last thought, Is it my own paranoia, or is it almost impossible to buy a sack of potatoes that is less than 50% green? They make the plastic either brown or red coloured so that you can't tell what state the potatoes are in. I try and peer into the 1/4" airholes, rubbing the sack to move the potatoes all around in a pathetic attempt to determine whether they have the deadly alkaloids. Unfortunately there is no solanine tester that a shopper can scan the potatoes with. I guess the thing to do is see it as an extreme sport.

Thursday, May 05, 2005


Felice made the 98 photocopies we needed for the various adoption paperwork demons. I ran herd on Henry at Staples while she was doing it, showing him all the miraculous items available. The one product that amazed me was the Microsoft fingerprint scanner which I didn't realize was on the market at all. It does not gauge whether the finger has been severed from the owner's hand, so I don't think I'll be using one for my sensitive documents.

If I am ever in Alberta I think I'll stop by the Canadian Museum of Making which looks quite interesting. The name is a bit odd though, "Museum of Making", when some other word would probably suffice. Are there other museum names that end in "-ing"? It's not like we have a "museum of arting" or "museum of sciencing". A quick Google search finds a "museum of fishing and smuggling", so I guess there are. I wonder about stupid things.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Uneven Shoelaces

My cousin Peter sent me a link to Ian's Shoelace Site, and I emailed Ian to ask him why, after a week of tying and untying, my shoelaces ends were uneven in length. Here is what he said:

"You asked about the ends of the shoelaces shifting. I'd guess that your shoes are probably laced with either Shoe Shop Lacing or Straight LazyLacing. Both of these do exactly what you described. This is because of theuneven distribution of tension. The solution is to re-lace with any of thesymmetrical lacing methods."

I guess I have to relace my shoes...

Monday, May 02, 2005

A Busy Day

I woke up at 3:00AM for some reason last night, and lay in bed with my mind grinding over sundry tasks and obligations that lie ahead of me. I was able to go back to sleep sometime around 5:00AM and awoke at 8:00AM.
My first task of the day was to wash the coffee press, as the dishwasher is broken. After breakfast I took the dishwasher apart, looking for the source of the malfunction. The cause was well known, several weeks ago a plastic chopstick had been chewed up into the machine, but after a terrible noise nothing had seemed awry.
I found that the plastic drive coupler that joins the impeller to the motor had been stripped out. I spent an hour on the Taig lathe making a threaded insert out of delrin and modifying the coupler. The part seems to work but the dishwasher does not seem to drain correctly. If I can just get it to work in a "half-assed" fashion for the week I'll call the lonely Maytag man and have a professional repair done.
Felice is completing the 2nd round of adoption paperwork and had me figure out or assets, only to tell me after an hour's work that the information wasn't needed after all. Ahh, marriage.
Well, that was an exciting post.
Here are a few links:
About Tokyo Rose
University of Nebraska Historical Scientific Instrument Gallery

A New Blog

Since I am unable to do my own blogging, I decided to see if starting a Blogger account would help. We'll see...