[Reader Note: My life-long “brother by a different mother” of 70 years – the Major – finally made it home from Mexico – where his wife suffered a burst appendix almost a week ago. They got in around 10:45 PM last night.
“Thanks my Bro’ for your support and the prayers of so many of your readers – it means a lot…!!!”
Being stuck in a resort town wouldn’t have been a bad thing, ‘Pulco, under better circumstances. But – dammit – Life don’t ask some things! Our thanks as well.]
Part of today’s edition of STS was lashed together late Friday. Because I need every minute of daylight (for the whole weekend) to get all the projects lined up for this timeframe, to get cranked-out in a timely way.
While there are a ton of smaller “gimme” projects (transplant two Gardenias) which keep getting slid to “tomorrow” *(which was crossed off as done Friday), the fun stuff this week has been prepping for a super high-output weekend on the operating end of power tools. Here’s a walk-through of the set-up leading into the frenzy:
The Main Point in a Nutshell
There’s an old saying: “If you want something done, give it to a busy man. Political correctness changed it to person over the years. But it’s still true as ever.
Was it in one of the Peoplenomics reports a while back? I explained that before computers came along, Management Science had a lot of emphasis on span of control.
See, back in the Twilight Dawn of overpopulation (pre-computer) it was assumed that one Supervisor (or Manager) could only effectively supervise 7 or 8 people.
By the time I was rolling out of my serious journo days (early 1980s) and getting into sales management, it had become clear that one person with a computer could manage thousands.
You go back and look and – no kidding – everyone in Microsoft could (at one time – directly email (and interact) with Bill Gates, for example.
Obviously, something had been missed in this “Management Science” stuff.
What Was Missed?
Simply? The idea that in the Age of Computers – which became the Age of Phones – which became the (horribly morphed) Age of Singular Focus, things were number of workers based, was DEAD WRONG.
What we’re REALLY talking about is NUMBER OF PROJECTS.
Thus, here it is – 4 AM on a Sunday – and I’m already up and “working the day.” When 90 percent of people have the God-given good sense to sleep-in, right?
Point is, Pappy (R.I.P.) always taught me the basic core thinking that gets me out of bed every day:
- First, there is no reason to work harder for someone else than you work for yourself. Unless you’re a fool.
- Second, there will be plenty of time to rest in the grave. Which gets to another aspect: If you live to 90, that’s only 32,850 Days. People live, work, and pursue their own greatness in a pretty slip-shod manner, considering the time-value of Life!
- Last, but not least, is our “rules of Process.”
When you have some Big Projects coming up, you don’t need to “rest up for them.” That’s pure LPBS. (*Lazy Person Bullshit.) Fact is, the more you work, the more skills and experience you’ll have.
Therefore, even when retired, you need a good slate of Projects in your WIP (work in progress is what WIP means in manufacturing) cue. Each Project has a “definition” along with “Supplies” plus “tools required.” Doesn’t hurt to have a formalized plan of some kind. And enough time allocated to reasonably get everything done.
Ure’s Next Big Project?
That will be a new deck, stairs, concrete paver-block patio, and some neat rebar railing I have in mind. Excuse to buy a TIG welding rig to round out the welding stable.
Want that to happen in about 3-week’s time. In East Texas, anything done after May 1 is likely to be on the sauna side of working – hot and steamy. Experience says when its humid, working in full sun, over about 83 F on bigger projects will generate enough sweat rolling into the eyes that mistakes can be made. Cool and collected is more out style.
Big Projects are supported by smaller ones. Planting gardenias this week was a short 15-minute “supporting project”.
Lawn mowing season is also here (a first pass will possibly take place before it rains later this week). In the meantime, there’s a ton-o-fun on tap today, as we “Picked up our hammer and saw…”
Homemade Biochar Project
While rolling through YouTube videos of how-to amp-up the garden room’s veggie output this week, I stumbled on a number of clips on making biochar.
Basically, it’s nothing more than charcoal (*without starter and additives baked-in) that has been run through a grinder.
Making biochar seems to be a disease – people get almost – and in some cases beyond – obsessed with it. Fanatics…useful ones, though.
To begin, you’ll need one of these:
Yep – standard leaf mulcher.
Next, you go to that high end 50-pound sack of charcoal you bought for the outdoor woodfired pizza oven and syphon off 10 pounds or so. The kind with no additives – critical point! This is placed on your “right-sizing charcoal device with manual impact adapter.”
(Which only looks like a concrete topped workbench and hammer!)
Under the mulcher, you slip the first thing handy that’s big enough to capture finely chopped charcoal. It’s a terribly messy project and clouds of black dust will be formed. I did it on the lawn figuring it might help.
Stay upwind and wear PPE & N100 breathing protection. Unless you’ve previously landed a billion-dollar film part in a doc about Black Lung disease…
Next, you will take some scoops of the dust and ultrafine charcoal flakes and sprinkle them onto your veggies in the square foot gardens, like so:
(The black circles are the hanging pots which are seething with radishes!)
Notice the color of the top – top dressed soil – looks darker. But you don’t stop there. Because as top dressing, it will only dry things out a bit. Which gets us to a teaspoon of Fox Farms liquid organic (not too strong, these are seedlings, remember) and give them all a good spraying. No more than a teaspoon per gallon. I went with 2/3rds teaspoon per gallon.
The problem you’ll also be facing (if you’re following along at home, in an identical climate, assuming you made a garden room along with us), is that the Romaine will now be coming up like a weed.
Consensus on the web (which is a dangerous idea in itself!) is that a small pair of scissors is to be used to cut out excess plants. Eat the snippings – as microgreens. There is some semblance of order beginning to appear here:
Yes, that’s right: One tomato plant per square foot. Cold for them still, but they’ll be along soonly.
More as we grow along…
Chill’d with the Chiller
Got down to about 40 on Thursday night, but Friday was sunny and we were thrilled to see the garden room up to almost 86 degrees. We want to stop it about there. Time to turn on the swamp cooler and instantly things began to chill down.
Remember, the new garden room was designed to make a nearly perfect, no mold *(cedar and ozone, thanks) environment for the plants. After taking the end cap off the north exhaust screen and letting the chiller run for 5-minutes or so, there was definitely a temperature drop. Humidity came up – which is how swamp coolers work. Right on plan.
After a good half-hour, the temp was down to 77F and 57% relative humidity…and all this while the fan was only on low. The main reason for this prequel project was the temperature-sensing outlet will be wall mounted and will be set to come on when the temp gets up to 84, or so. That way, it shouldn’t run all the time, even during the (days from hell) part of summer in East Texas. Running on high got the room down to 70F.
Wild-eyed Ure’s next idea: Making a printable (STL 3D printer project) to put a 12V pump and lines to a champagne or beer cooling tub. Be a damn shame to let all that cold water go to waste, right?
Warmer temps during the day means the CR10 V2 3D printer farm was brought back online this week without requiring constant baby-sitting.
Still, it’s getting cool enough, with lows into the 40s and a heat range of 30F hot to cold, that I’m finding for PLA prints like this one, the nozzle temp is running 225C and keeping the bed at 60C during prints give a good mix of bed adhesion (the 60C) and proper layer-bonding (the 225C). In the summer, when the shop comes up to summer operations temp (75-ish with real solar powered a/c, we will likely back the bed down a few degrees.
We’ll fire up the Ender-3 later.
This one – another raised bed – big one – and cheap because most of the materials are farm leftovers. Some old tin, treated 4-by-4 posts and exterior screws…
All inspired by this Haxman video:
Oh-oh! See where this is going?
I will take pictures as I go, but the general idea is the project today should lay out in simple steps:
- Cut the corner posts out of 4X4.
- Apply a couple of cross ties of 2-by-4.
- Lay a 2-by-4 rail around it on top.
- Calculate required dirt: 32 sf of space 2-feet deep, so about 60-65 cubic feet…so a little over two yards of “dirt-dirt.”
- Then in comes the leaf mulcher.
- The local bagged compost and about 10% charcoal will be mixed and layered in the top 6 inches, or better.
- Into that will go a good helping of Perlite and Vermiculite because the soil (from down by the gun range berm) goes off to clay…
- The top couple of inches will be turned over with some starting soil, amended with (more) charcoal and what have you.
- Then a dousing with Fox Farms onto the top charcoal layer…more mixing.
- While the plants (32 of them) come up in their CowPots in the greenhouse.
Some of this will obviously spill over. But the bed and the planting strings ought to be a decent goal for the weekend. Because this is in competition with?
The OTHER Project
Its taking this ungodly messy area (but right in front of the a/c):
And turning it into my “small tools workstation” with these tools:
Old-school Dremel Table Saw and a good Sears scroll saw. PLUS just arrived this week:
Yes, tool sluts, this is a $25 class good deal on eBay.
Works dandy and brings me back to the day when the Major and I were building stuff as kids. God-awful racket when running.
And, after 60+ years, the blades included had rusted through on a couple. But, no worries. WD-40 time. Lesson here is small blades rust. Oil after use.
Going to use a cheap box of leftover laminate flooring for the bench top. Lordy Almighty! P-Lam for counters is expensive. *(No, wait…they’re watering down the money but the effect is identical!)
Go thee hither now and ponder how to line up YOUR weekend so you can roll with cool projects like this, remember the secret is Logistics. You get all your plans, parts, labor, cut-outs, and the real time-sinks done well in advance.
Then you get out to the project site and crush it in no time.
People will be amazed.
Well, except for Vlad Putin. Understand he’s having a tough time grasping this logistics concept.
Roll on, brothers and sisters – after you drop a comment, of course. And the winning Lotto numbers while Ure at it…
One for the Road
From reader Ray’s trolling of the web…
A free commercial? No, a statement of Reality.
Sanity is in exile…but looking to arrange a come-back.
Shut up and write a comment,
George@Ure.net – the Sunday morning Caffeine Kid