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.