Monday, January 28, 2019

Project time comes to an end

Tomorrow I begin my new job at a civil engineering firm here in Vancouver. I expect I will draft for them for years. So I wanted to spend today well. In the morning I worked on some illustrations for the electrical workbook that has been on my backburner for years. Between Dad's edits and my illustrations we should publish it this Spring. The mail brought two of my four W-2s for last year, so I entered them into TurboTax. By this time we had eaten lunch and the sun was shining. So I went outside with my machete and cleared some blackberries from the perrenial stream on the west side of our property. I've wanted to build a brush dam there to deepen the little pond, so I did that. I took deadfall branches from across the field, prunings from one of our apple trees, and a pine tree that had fallen over. Then I poured leaves on the upstream side of the dam to help it seal.

Living trees interlaced with brush dam
Maybe the pond will be a few inches higher after the next rainstorm. It will dry up next Summer, but we might not have to irrigate this area as early as we have before.

Upstream from the dam
In this photo, notice the water-meadow effect in the stream. The moving water keeps frosts away, which helps the grass keep growing through the winter. There are several places in our field where this effect can be observed.

After finishing the brush dam I stacked some logs from our apple tree pruning last December (Lynae got me an electric chainsaw for my birthday) and put some more leaves on the garden. I toxically masculinized some hamburgers for dinner and then I sharpened by chainsaw and put it away. So it was a good day with sunshine, sweat, and projects completed.

Speaking of completed projects, I found this spare clamp-on vise while I was working on my car. I had just watched this video on YouTube, so I grabbed some  sand paper and shined it up. I worked on it on and off over the past two weeks. There was still some rust on it, so I primed it with some Rust Converter and then painted it in brown and green.

Does anyone know what kind of soft jaws fit into that recess?

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Layoff Projects

Last Friday was my last day at Pivotal Communications. So I have been banging out some of my projects at home. Since then I have:
  • Changed my car's timing belt
  • Installed the diaper sprayer on our toilet
  • Installed a baby gate at the top of our stairs
  • Cleaned rust off of Dad's drill press
  • Cleaned, peened and sharpened my scythe blade
  • Repaired the shoulder at SR 500 and 65th Street (video later)
  • Changed the CV joint in a friend's car
  • Been to dentist and chiropractor appointments
A lot of things that have been on my to-do list I knocked out in four days. I am looking for work, but it is harder to motivate myself to find a job when I am so productive working for myself. Of course, if anyone needs a GIS Analyst or drafter, let me know. I can send out my resume.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Fire Lookouts

The men who built and staffed fire lookouts back in the 1910s and '20s were some determined dudes. They moved the materials for these cabins to the top of some of the tallest of the Cascades. Often by pack mule, but by hand when they had too. And then they spent long summers alone, waiting to call in the location of any fire. Once World War II started the lookouts used for the Aircraft Warning Service were often staffed through the Winter as well. Long cold nights at the top of a mountain. My hat is off to them.

Silver Star Mountain Lookout in 1964

You can read some of the stories of the lookouts and the men who manned them at Eric Willhite's excellent website. There were lookouts on trees, peaks and mountains all across the state. At many places a foundation is all that remains. Eric has visited nearly all of the sites and taken pictures of them. He also shows panoramic pictures taken when the Forest Service was deciding to build one at a given location. It's fascinating to look back at a time when our forests were being developed. To see old maps marking ranger stations which were decommissioned long before I was born.

The Cook Creek Lookout
These men were determined problem solvers. I am planning an event to maintain one of the roads they used. It will be an honor to follow in their steps.

Monday, December 10, 2018

This is a little map I am making in ArcGIS Online. It highlights the area where I and a bunch of my friends plan to repair Gifford Pinchot Forest Road 41 next year. Let's see if the map embeds properly.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

But What About Second Saturday?

Today my boss sent us all home because the server (located across the country) wouldn't let us log on. I really enjoy it when this sort of thing happens. It is like a second Saturday has been tacked on to my week.

Our living arrangements help with this as well. The place we live in is a rental owned by a partnership of my Dad, a brother and myself. Which means that I am paid for any work I do to maintain or improve the value of the place. Gardening doesn't count. But the pergo floor we installed in our landing room does. The pay is just a bit less than my day job, and my house is a bit nicer at the end of the day.

Anyways, I took advantage of that arrangement today by putting up the bead board in our bathroom. And then we took a long nap. After dinner I put up some trim in our landing room. So it was an excellent Tuesday.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Weekly Project Roundup November 11,2018

I think that I will start writing a summary of my weekly projects every Sunday for awhile. I am working on a post about how I got married to Lynae. And I have a few other philosophical ones in my drafts. But project summaries are easy and so they will help me get back into blogging.

Last Monday was our second anniversary. So I came home early and grilled some steak.

On Thursday Devin and I changed my brake pads and rotors. Just before we got married, I put some high performance brake pads from Britain on my car. I often distract myself when I drive. So anything that can reduce my stopping distance is a good thing. The brake pads worked well, but they started grinding this Summer. So I bought some ceramic pads to try. During installation we found that a nut was missing from the passenger side ball joint. We found a new nut, put it on, and now my steering is more responsive. So that was a good night's work.

On Saturday we finished cleaning up the garden. The first frost happened on Tuesday night, so the tomatoes and nasturtiums were done. Inter-planting nasturtiums worked perfectly. It kept the bugs off of the cabbages and tomatoes. In 2017 cabbage bugs were constantly chewing up our cabbages. Not this year. We will do that again. Though they generated so many seeds that they might naturalize in those beds.

Later in the day Lynae did some baking while I built a spear. There is at least one mountain lion patrolling our area. So I figured that a spear might be useful. That, and LindyBeige goes on about the benefits of spears. So I took an old rake handle, JB-welded a 6 inch nail into the end of it, and hammered a sixteen-penny nail through the side to use as a hook. My brother-in-law made a gaff for the blackberry harvest this year, and I wanted one, too. So now I have a tool that is half-spear, half-pruning hook.

Finally, I cut some bead board to close in the hot water heater in our bathroom. Someone worked on the water heater a number of years ago, but did not replace the panel in front of it when they were done. The panel was set out in the garage and then burned after a garage cleaning. But we found some bead board, cut it to fit, and tomorrow I will fasten it in place.

So those were the projects I worked on last week. I am sending Lynae and my son to Minnesota to see family for Thanksgiving. So I have a bunch of projects planned for then.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

2018 Garden Cleanup Report

Today we cleaned up the garden for the year. That is the before picture. The after picture is below. Garlic, strawberries, carrots, tomatoes rhubarb are still in the ground. But we cleaned up the cornstalks, green beans (which were still producing), squashes, cabbages and sunflowers.

Zuchinni, cabbage, green beans, potato and crook neck squash
The deer and rabbits were still getting into the garden this year. They decimated the cabbages and tomatoes, in addition to attacking the carrots and squashes. We double fenced the corners where the deer were jumping in. And we arched chicken wire over some of the crops. Next year I will just have to build an 8 foot tall fence. But in addition to that, a friend with a hunting license came out and harvested a beautiful buck this week. Two more friends will stop by for late deer season in two weeks. So that should help reduce browsing pressures.
Our man-child is very comfortable outside

Productive wife
We spent two hours today with the fork and hoe to weed the beds. My siblings have orders to move piles of leaves onto the beds this next week. After three years of battling blackberries, it sure is nice to pull the leaves off in the Spring and have beds that are softer than they were in the Fall.

Beds ready for leaves
For next year we want to do more of the same, but with no deer.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Use the Crutch

When I was addicted to porn, there were good things I held on to. Gentle rebukes that would help me see out of the fog. This song was one of them.

But the fact was; I needed help. I could see out of the fog, but I couldn't walk out of it by myself.

Of course, my pride got in the way of admitting this truth. Of telling people that I couldn't control my porn addiction. Of telling them that I needed help.

To confess is to agree with the truth.

Confession blew a hole in my pride. I found that it became easier to resist porn with every single person I admitted my problem to. Some people didn't want to help, some people didn't seem to care. But every time I confessed to someone else another hole was blown in my pride-boat.

We have so many defenses for our pride. "That's just a crutch." "It won't actually solve the problem." It's true. Crutches don't heal. But they support you while you heal. They let you return to a semblance of normalcy while you heal.

So use the crutch. Admit that you are lying in the hospital bed, immobile. Let your pride-boat sink so that its cargo of porn drowns.

And keep good music on your phone. When I say, "good music" I mean "music that is good for you." The sort of Bible memory stuff you listened to as a kid. Don't be ashamed of the crutch; use it.

Friday, June 08, 2018

What makes a good cartographer? For that matter, what makes good cartography? When I was in college my instructors often spoke as if the means of cartographic mastery were a mystery. "A map needs to be accurate, but it should also be beautiful, but it should be precise, but it should look good." "It's got a scientific aspect and an aesthetic aspect." They found this balance between art and precision to be an intractable dilemma, only achieved by a few masters of the craft. And it is a difficult problem, but after a couple years of reflection I realized that it is not a unique problem. Where else do you need to present true data in a pleasing manner? Or, to look at a different aspect, when do you go through so many revisions while you try to get things just right? Well, whenever you write.

You see, map making is just another form of communication. It has it's own grammar and memes. It is a technical skill, but it has room for beauty.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Travel’s greatest purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one. --William Hazlitt

Doughgob Camp

This weekend Lynae and I spent a night at Doughgob Camp on Forest Road 41 in the GPNF. It's an unimproved site on the side of a ridge, surrounded by huckleberry bushes. This was the first time I have camped there, but it has been a place of formative experiences for me in the past. And this time was no different, because I wanted to drive the length of road 41.

According to the Forest Service's latest update, " From Lookout Mountain to Sunset Falls the road [41] is rough and slow going. High clearance vehicle recommended." That was posted this Spring, but locals know it has been true for the past fifteen years at least. This road is known for its potholes, waterblocks and ruts. And the only vehicle I had to drive on it was my Kia Rio. I had some trepidation, but I gave us extra time in case we got stranded, and I prepared my car. So after I got off work on Friday we ate dinner, packed the rest of our gear, and left.

We left before 7 PM because I wanted to arrive before sunset at 8:45. The road was as terrible as usual but I was able to crawl along in first gear at about 8 mph all the way up to Bluff Mountain trailhead. Which is a beautiful place. It's on the ridge looking West across the Copper Creek valley to Silver Star Mountain and to the East across the Washougal River valley to Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson. This is the area where I saw my first bear. We took a quick look before continuing. There we encountered the first feature that I thought might be impassable; a deep hole on the downhill side of the road. Fortunately there was room on the uphill side to get around it.

Doughgob itself is easy to miss. It is a sheltered grassy spot with a rock fire pit and the busted remains of a picnic table. The nearest water is a quarter mile down the gravel road which turns off just east of the camp site. You could pitch two tents, but after that you would probably run out of flat ground. We arrived around 8:40, set up the tent and got a fire going. Over the fire we roasted doughbobs, which is just biscuit dough roasted on the fat end of a stick. The night passed peacefully

On Saturday morning I made bacon and pancakes for breakfast. Then we spent some time picking up trash in the site and took a walk down the adjacent road. By ten we had packed everything up, said a quick prayer, and we started to drive East on road 41. The road was the same quality as it had been. We followed the US Topo map for Lookout Mountain and found it to be accurate.

Fourth of July and Spring Camps

There are two more unimproved camps on the ridge along road 41; Fourth of July camp and Springs Camp. Fourth of July Camp is located on a shoulder of Lookout Mountain and has room for a number of campers. It looks out over the East Fork of the Lewis River. There is even a developed spring. Just follow a trail to the West and listen for the sound of falling water. It will lead you down to an old metal pipe that supplied water to an old cabin. The wooden foundation and collapsed walls are still there. If I were ever to organize an event to fill in some of Road 41's potholes (I would really like to), I might base it out of 4th of July camp. Spring Camp is another single-site, unimproved camp immediately Northeast of Little Lookout Mountain. It is a little more open to the road than Doughgob. Someone had lashed together a wood table off to the side of the site. Winter snows had partially collapsed it, but we set it back up. If I ever hike Lookout Mountain, I would like to stay at Spring Camp. I would probably drive to it from Forest road 43.

At Spring Camp with Little Lookout Mountain behind.
The junction with Forest Road 43 is two miles East of Spring Camp. That is where we left Road 41 to head down to Hemlock and Carson. Road 43 is in much better condition. We finished out our adventure by visiting the Gorge Interpretive Center in Stevenson on our way home. In all, it was an enjoyable and rewarding trip.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Tuna Fish Soup

[I plan to move a lot of my social media time back to blogging. So I am extracting some of my Facebook posts and placing them here]

So, I went to mix up two cans of tuna. You know, not too much for one person to eat in a couple of days, particularly if that person likes tuna. So I get out the can opener and open the first can. Everything looks good so far. I squeeze out the water, even though the lids on these cans are way wimpier than the big Costco cans. You have to use all your fingers to distribute the pressure evenly or the lid will buckle in on you. I like my tuna dry, not too much water, not too much mayonnaise. The lids on the Costco cans are much stronger. Strong enough that, once you've pushed the lid in about 1/3 of the way, you can hold the base of the can in your right hand, tilt it onto it's side, and then push your left fist into the lid to squirt out the remaining water. But I wasn't working with a Costco can, and remembering that fact was going to be important. So I finish squeezing the first can, empty it into my container, and start on the second one. Everything still looks good. I dump the second can into the container, and it looks fine. Then I reach into the fridge to get the mayonnaise. I put a great big forkful of mayo in the container with the tuna. Yup, everything is going well. 2,3,4,5 heaping forkfuls of mayo and I have just enough mayo to start mixing. I'll add more once I get this mixed in and

Wait a second.

Why is there as much mayonnaise as tuna in the bowl?

Why is there so little tuna in the bowl?


Aww, crud. I'm not cooking for fifteen people anymore.

Well, I had to make the best of it, so I start mixing. (Do you even know how fast two dinky cans of tuna mix up? You don't have to use your elbow grease or anything.) And the results were... tuna soup. A tuna fish sandwich, especially if it has cucumber products on it, is one of the best foods known to man. Tuna soup is one of the worst. When a sibling (or my wonderful mom) produces tuna soup, I helpfully suggest that they put less mayonnaise in it next time. I, of course, have not created tuna soup ever since we started buying Costco cans. And back when I did create tuna soup, when we still used the dinky cans, there was always more tuna that I could use to thicken it up. But I did not have that option this time because I had only bought two cans. So, I had a dilemma. How do you thicken up over-mayoed tuna if you don't have anymore tuna?

Ah, that's it. What other sandwich topping do you make by mixing something with mayonnaise? Egg-salad! So I boil up three eggs and put them in. Problem solved.

Friday, August 23, 2013

San Francisco: Week One

Well, I am now in an apartment is Berkeley, CA, looking out at the campus and the hills.  I am here to do drafting for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.  They are replacing a bunch of their waterlines, digging up about six blocks at a time.  They have been doing this since 2003, and they are almost done.  Once this is complete, they have another project that is scheduled to take twenty-two years, or at least I think that is what they said.  Fortunately, I don't have to worry about the full scope of the project.  Right now I am just assigned to two of the sub-projects, a pipeline replacement along one street, and a waterline replacement on another street.  The work is easy.  Right now I simply have to show all of the existing utilities under the street so that the engineer will be able to avoid them when he designs the new pipes.  After I have finished drawing the existing utilities we will go out to the site and check them.  The engineer I am working for is a very nice, younger guy.  In fact, everyone in the Engineering Management department is quite chill.  They have been doing the same thing for a long time and their system just works.  This is a stark contrast to most of my projects, where we are trying to help clients do something they have never done before.  Moreover, the engineer has done all the research for me, he finds the utility drawings, I just have to draft them.  Usually clients just dump a bunch of data on us and say, "Hey, could you help us sort this out."  I'm not complaining, we provide that service gladly.  But it is reassuring to see that some agencies actually have a system that works.  So, work is going well, and I am happy.

Life-wise, the first part of the week was crazy, as I tried to feed myself from convenience stores, restaurants and a grocery store.  My plane was very late, it didn't arrive in Portland until well after it was supposed to drop us off in SF.  I got to the apartment in Berkeley at 8:30 PM after taking the wrong BART stop. After that, I walked a block to a 7-eleven and bought some peanut butter, milk, cereal, and some energy bars.  I called those items "Dinner" and "Breakfast" and I went to bed after consuming the former.  Monday morning came quickly, and I got to BART with lots of time to spare. Once I arrived at SFPUC I met with the CAD manager and he showed me their drafting standards.  After an hour of orientation, he broughy me up to the Engineering department and introduced me to the people I would be working with.  My engineer was not in that day, but they had me start on one of the projects anyways.  One of the drafters, a nice Asian gentleman who works for a company that is two links up the contracting chain from mine, showed me the restaurants around the SFPUC building and we bought lunch at a Subway.  After work I went to Berkeley Bowl, which is exactly the kind of grocery store you would expect to find here.  There were a number of Hemp products.  The display of bath salts caught my attention, but it seemed to be the normal kind.  One of the things I appreciated was the magazine rack at the checkout line. It had magazines that I would actually read, like Make. So I bought one, along with some chickens, more cereal, eggs, bread, green onions and a cucumber. (Cause cucumbers are awesome).

Tuesday was crazy in a similar way.  I made scrambled eggs for breakfast (the food bootstrapping plan was starting to pay off) and I met my engineer later in the morning.  I still had to go to Subway for lunch, but after work I made another trip to Berkeley Bowl so that I could buy jam and honey for sandwiches.  I also bought rice, and made this masterpiece:

Two chicken breasts and a bunch of rice

I'm still eating the leftovers.  That sums up my shopping experience.  I've still eaten at a restaurant once or twice since then.  But my life has settled down and I made it through the rest of the week.  Tomorrow 
I will probably explore Berkeley some more, particularly the campus.  Blessings to everyone back home.  On Bart today I saw a family with five little kids who had just flown in from Israel and it made me think of you.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Blog Introductions: What's Wrong With the World

From time to time I post links to articles I have read to my various social networking platforms. These articles often come from three blogs that I really like. So, I thought that I would give you all a proper introduction to these blogs and their authors.

What's Wrong With The World

This motley crew claims to write in the defense of "Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ."  The authors are all very conservative in the proper sense of the word, they want to conserve something.  But they rarely agree on what they want to conserve, and how to conserve it.  So you have Lydia McGrew who keeps us up to date on hate laws and abortion laws and Progressive progress.  The tone of her articles would be familiar to anyone who reads World Magazine.  Then there is Jeff Culbreath, who doesn't think that Capitalism is worth conserving (more on that later).  Another author is so conservative that he thinks we should have a king.  The discussions over there are raucous and serve as proof that Conservatism is far more diverse than one might imagine.

Up next: A blog introduction to The Distributist Review

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Herd of Cattle

The Herd of Cattle

Well perhaps you’ve heard me prattle,
Of when I got mixed up with some cattle,
Just a herd of eighty two,
That us kids were driving through,
A bunch of steers they sold for beef,
Never dreamed we’d meet a thief,
Would have sent along the men,
But they all were busy then,
You can bet us kids were proud of ourselves,
For the six of us were only twelve,
And to make us think that we were men,
They handed us our first guns then,
They were thirty twos I think,
With home made bullets made of zinc,
But they’d have to do they said.
As we had run out of lead,
We had about two hundred miles to go,
And were told to take it slow,
And as near as I can say,
We made twenty miles a day,
Our cook was a kid we all called fat,
But he was pretty good at that,
And he fed us good alright,
Kept our belt buckles good and tight,
But we had orders for to stay,
At a place we should reach on the ninth day,
They said it was a small frog pond,
With the water mostly gone,
But the grass that round it grew,
Would last the steers a day or two,
Well the steers had reached the bank,
And were filling up their tanks,
When five men were standing there,
They appeared out of thin air,
They told us kids to just skidoo,
That our cattle drive was through,
But we knew our men would come,
Then we knew there’d be some fun,
We hid up among the brush,
Hoped our men would make a rush,
We sent one kid back down the trail,
To meet our men he couldn’t fail,
And it proved to be the ticket,
They left their horses in a thicket,
So they approached the camp a walking,
And you bet they wasn’t talking,
The camp fire was burning down low,
Gosh I thought our guys are slow,
Then I heard our foreman cry,
Stick your paws up to the sky,
Then the guns began to bellow,
And I saw they had hit one fellow,
Three pair of paws went in the air,
But the fifth man wasn’t there,
He had made his bed alone,
Somewhere up among the stones,
But when he saw they’d lost they day,
He was coming right my way,
And when I yeld for him to freeze,
He couldn’t see me in the trees,
And his gun just started blazing,
And the under brush he was hazing,
And before I could even think,
I handed him a piece of zink,
Then our men came on the fly,
Threw a rope around the guy,
Told us kids we better run,
Not stick around to see the fun,
But it wasn’t too much fun I hope,
For the next day we were short of ropes,
Must have droped them on the ground,
Didn’t stop to look around,
Said we’d understand when we were grown,
But told us to skidoo for home.

A.D. Brown,
Aug, 9th, 1977