Been a busy week around the old “double-wide in the woods” – getting ready for the Big Shut-In, which seems about an equal proposition, as we see it.

As we have hinted-at before, once you have “the basics” covered, there’s not too much else to do except figure out which of your hobbies will have the highest paybacks for the time and money invested.  We optimize on personal enjoyment, a lot.


Normally, we would have the garden set by now, but there are still some major roadblocks to polish off before Sunday:  For one, I still haven’t gotten around to putting the new plastic roof panels on the greenhouse.  The young man who does the bug spraying was willing to horse-trade some old tools for that, however, so that should be done tomorrow.  Barring a downpour today, the garden will get burned out today and tilled  That means when I move in an mix up the topsoil, the garden will be ready for Elaine to take over.  That’ll be watching the “children” – small plants in the greenhouse until they’re big enough to fend for themselves in the garden.

Speaking of Elaine, she added something to our preps list that I hadn’t weighed heavily-enough on the shopping binge:  Epsom Salts.  Not only is it not bad for plants in moderation, but it does a hell of a fine job in keeping raccoons and possums away.  So much so, that with a light dusting of the stuff on the decks, wildlife passes by the nightly inspection of the cat food dishes outside.

Not to say this will work in all areas – after all, urban raccoons are about the nastiest and peskiest there are – but out here in Nature Land, seems to work.  Toss in the crushed chili peppers and most of the plants will have a chance.

There are still a number of large limbs that need to visit Mr. Firewood.  But the missus is not especially interested in Paul Bunyon Jr. getting outside with his chainsaw.  She covers the climate change, save the Earth side of the argument.  I just want to eat, come what may.  She’ll come around, or I will quietly use a buck saw and ladder.

Bottom line here is that it’s not too late to get some 5-gallon pails and put in some tomato plants and the like…even if you live in a basement apartment.  All you need is sunshine and a spot with sun for 7-8 hours a day.  Plus, enough presence of mind to water daily.  Place the plants on a table in full sun in your kennel full of hjungry pitt bulls.

The Wood Shop

Went to the lumber yard earlier this week and “stocked up.”  With 2-sheets of good 1/2 inch, a sheet of 3/4 inch *(Baltic Birch) and two sheets each of luan and 1/4 inch Birch, there’s not much a fellow can’t make.  Especially if you’ve been slowly accumulating hardware for six months.

The Auto Shop

Finally got sick and tired of having to refill the damn riding mower tires every time I mow.  Solution seems to be installing the mower-sized TireJect packs on all four wheels.  I hadn’t put much thought to this before, but might not be a bad thing to get several kits and have them for the vehicles – a just in case.

W put a new battery in Elaine’s car last week…so no issues there.  But the truck battery is coming up on five-years, so pondering whether to pre-emptively change that out.  You don’t see many people clamoring for diesel yet, do you?

Writing Projects

Picked up one of those “Great Courses” on eBay the other day:  4 DVD set on “Better writing and story-telling.”  Long-time readers know I could really use that, so that’s on the “things to absorb instead of mindless TV crap.

Home Design and Tuning

Only thing that has caught my eye lately in media is the upcoming Disney “Jungle Cruise” release in July.  Not so much for the plot (figure it will be PG) but for the effects and the staging.

Ever since I had my first eye surgeries (1975’ish) and took the kids to D-Land in the 1980’s – then seeing for the first time things done using UV – it has been a joy to visit all Disney properties I can.  The angle of the glass between the scene and the ride cars of the Haunted House…where “ghosts” are projected.

The “magic home” ideas really flow.  In addition to the books on Imagineering, a couple of Marty Sklar books are in the reading queue, too.

The Electronics Bench

Still working up pieces for the great space-time bending experiments to come.  There are a couple of audio oscillator kits to build yet…and then there’s the (genuinely enjoyable) matter of going through ALL the instruments in the Garritan World Instruments series, trying to find those that look similar (spectrally) to what I’m after.

Haven’t written too much about the time machine project lately because of reading deeply on infrasound.  These are sounds that are felt, not heard.  Down in the 5-20 Hertz (cycles) range.  The question is one related to down-conversion to infrasound from assorted higher-frequency sounds…and yes, infrasound seems to support some degree of frequency stacking (think of the sub-audible infrasound as a “baseband” carrier if you’re into FDM muxing of microwaves, and then propagating piggyback….

Wonky world of rotary woofers, too.  One technique to think about involves spinning of a fan and using the modulation to alter the pitch (bite of the air) in a controlled manner.  Question is, could that “open a portal?”  It depends on the frequencies involved…and we won’t even get into the question of whether the familiar saucer shape of UFO’s is really ideal to house a rotary woofer to effect levitation… the answer is too obvious.

In the Metal Shop

A long while back, I wrote up an article “The Electronic Detective #1: Case of the eBay Amplifier.”  Without having to re-read the whole thing, I had cobbled-together a make-shift tuning knob crank out of a small length of brass tubing.

Mind you, this was more than two years ago – January of 2018.

Finally, this week I returned to the scene of the crime intent on making that tuning knob kluge look proper.  To begin with, I selected a piece of 6061 aluminum rod stock and chucked it up:

I took this picture to show you the process of “letting a useful part” out of its confinement in raw stock.

Referring to the numbers:  1) This is the business end of the raw stock inserted into the 3-jaw (self-centering) metal lathe chuck.  At 2) you make one pass down the length of the rod as a truing cut.

At 3) you get to work with your cutter and let out the basic outline of what you’re after.  Then at 4) you face-the end neatly.  The next to last part of the operation is replacing the ball-bearing center (on the unpowered, right-side of the machine) and installing your drill chuck.  (At today’s prices these are referred to as a Lathe Charles, lol).  Using high speed steel (HSS) drills is fine for 6061…and you cut down past where the bottom of the knob will be.

Last step?  Put in a cut-off tool and cut flat across the bottom in that groove you cleverly thought to put (between 2 and 3, in the picture above, got it?).

In no time at all, the tool will cut through and you’ll be left grabbing a hot piece of metal that is just one “inch & 3/8th long 8/32 screw” away from radio amplifier perfection.  The finished piece is a bit longer than the “stock” part, and the stock part doesn’t have the outer edge rise that mine does.  Matter of operator preference:  I prefer knobs that help hold your hand in position while turning and not slipping off easily.  Other people have other ideas.,  My lathe, my amplifier…my frail male ego…my, oh my….

But installed, it looks just great (at least to me…):

You may recognize the Johnson-Speed semi-automatic key from our recent “Afternoon at the Telegraph Office” report.  America made absolutely great electronics in the 1950’s and into the 1970’s.  Which is what makes collecting and restoring gear so much fun…

Serially:  Do you see the next project, here?  The three pieces of bar stock on the left?

Oh hell, you don’t see it yet, but here’s what will happen, one of these first weeks when it cools down a bit (It was over 80 this week).  I will be cutting and welding up  this little gem out of the 1/2″ bar stock:

Bar horizontal doesn’t have to be overly big – or long – 8-inches should be good.  It’s time for me to start making mallets, again.

Which gets to the home-hand-bastards club Project of the Week from 8-years ago.  It’s ugly – got to warn you about that up-front:

Yep, that wooden mallet was a 4-minute project on my old wood lathe, which was passed on to Oilman2′s son down the road a piece.  It’s nothing more than a hunk of 2-by-4 that was chucked-up,  In a few minutes the handle appeared.  Top corners were turned a wee bit and the whole thing taken to the belt-sander.

It has been an ideal tool.  Cheap, unbreakable, and used every few days.

Sure, I might have gotten similar results from the amber-head mallet, the dead-blow hammers, the leather mallets in assorted sizes, and the blsack or white rubber mallets… but this sucker has been a treat to work with for gosh, at least 8-years now.

This spring, a straight oak that is drying right now (taken out by a lightning bolt) will be cut into 12-inch, or so, hunks out of everything from 3″ up to about 9″ and start making wood mallets.   Yee haw!

We Are What We Make

If you haven’t dozed-off yet, this should reveal volumes about my personality.  Because, understand, there are things that fit each of our temperaments perfectly.

In the Ure clan, we do very well with tools and “enclosing spaces.”  Pappy’s tastes ran to helping his brother and uncles frame houses.  Pappy’s Disston 10-point crosscut was totally off-limits until I was 10 or 11.

My tastes are similar.  Give me an outbuilding and some 2-by’s and I’ll build on 10,000 square feet of covered area  in no time at all – provided you have the wood and roofing materials.

George 2 is a “capper.”  Roofing seems to be his thing – has worked at it summers and now that he’s a firefighter, ladder work seems to be running in the genes.

Other people, like different materials and modes.  One of my late uncles was a “concrete man.”  He would have paved over his back yard, if the Seattle building code would have allowed it.  “The bigger the patio, the smaller the lawnmower.”  Another uncle was an incredibly skilled cabinet maker.  Drop–dead gorgeous woodwork.  Third house he built, especially.

Elaine’s cut from other cloth.  She’s a painter.  Where painting bores me to tears, she manages to keep her head in the game as she patiently does intricate design work around the house.  Here’s a close-up of an arch we built:  I blocked it in with 2-by-4’s and luan.  Then she did the final mudding and the details…The “beading” is gobs of sheetrock mud,  carefully applied.

One of the other interesting things she does is when she gets a piece to put on a wall, she likes to “treat” the wall so there’s an underlying “story” or “theme” of some type.  Instead of just hanging an antique wooden fish on the wall, she “stages” it with a few pieces of wood (my minor role).  Then she gets after the background to sketch a story for the wandering mind…:

There’s the point, you see?  Everyone has  something they really  like to do and they’re usually pretty good at it.  Ever bitch about being “too busy?”  Here comes our chance…

That’s the key to Prepping for Quarantine.

Use the time to really enjoy yourself.  Pretend everything will pass – as for most, it will.  But don’t waste the time.  You could design a couple of news products, labor saving inventions, decorate your house so there’s a “story everywhere you look” and really challenge yourself to be great with no big investment.  You have written a concerto, right?

Here’s a little Disney-like trick:  In our “West Coast Room” there’s a mural we commissioned and out in front of it are some “real” stuffed seagull-like birds.  The effect is to draw you into the picture…just like a diorama come to life at home.

That’s something anyone can do – each and every one of us.

Us?  Can we quarantine yet?  Please…please?

Write when you get rich or get let out…