April 12, 2013
Winter has returned to New Hampshire.
We got about a half inch of snow today. When I got up there was ice all over the windshield of my car. This surprised me, but I guess it should not have.
Some people are probably pretty upset about winter’s last gasp, but I find it a welcome return. Maybe it will be enough to tide me over until next winter (or if I’m lucky, autumn).
Penny didn’t seem to care. All else becomes unimportant when there are sticks to be caught.
Spring will be back again, and soon I’m sure. We had chipmunks in the yard last week. This one was at the foot of the deck stairs.
I opened the sliding glass door and he turned around, but he didn’t run off. Luckily, Penny didn’t see him as I took several shots.
Another thing I did last week was visit a virtual geocache in Franklin called “Abnaki Mortar” (sic – should be “Abenaki”) From the name, I couldn’t figure out what it was, but once I got there it was plainly obvious, and I felt silly for not knowing what to expect.
This is a mortar where the Abenaki Indians ground corn. European settlers used it too. I imagine they would have scooped the water out and tried to dry it a bit first. I was pretty pleased when I got here and saw what it was. I really like Native American history, especially here on the East Coast where almost none was recorded before they were driven out.
Meanwhile, I have been making slow but steady progress on the canoe. In spite of today’s snowstorm, we had a spot of nice weather last week. It was warm enough to consider epoxy work, so I considered it. And did it. I fit the instem into “Miss Nancy.”
That’s a tough proposition, as the stem is kind of the foundation of the boat. The brief period during which it was stemless, it was also exceedingly fragile. Once I got this new stem in place, it regained its strength plus some extra strength for good measure. Once the epoxy set on the instem, I attacked the outstem too:
Instead of clamping the outstem in place, I screwed it into the instem with steel screws. Those came out once the glue set, and will be replaced with brass screws. I generally don’t drive brass screws into wood until I’ve used a steel screw to cut the threads in the wood. Otherwise, the brass screws will twist in two, or strip out. As it was, the steel screws themselves all snapped in half when I went to remove them. I haven’t decided how to deal with that yet. Now that the epoxy is set, the screws are more decorative than anything else. I think if I tried to remove the steel screw nubbins, all I would do is mangle the ash. I might just use some shortened brass screws to plug the holes and make it look good.
Since this was done, I also shaped the outstem so that it flows into the hull with sweeping curves. It looks pretty good now. I also mixed up some epoxy and wood flour and slathered it into the cracks between the planks. I still need to hit it with another layer of that mixture and sand it down, but once that’s done, it’ll be ready to take a new layer of glass. Then the strength will increase by another order of magnitude. Once that’s done, I can smooth the inside of the hull, slather on more epoxy/wood flour, and sand that, and then it will be ready for glass as well.
This is going to be a nice boat.
March 20, 2013
Today is the first day of spring, but it doesn’t look anything like that here. We had a snow storm yesterday, and it dumped nine and a half inches of snow on my house. I am nearly alone in being happy about this, but I do love snow.
This morning I took Penny down to Sandogardy Pond. I wore snowshoes, and she weasel-jumped most of the way. She’s sleeping on the floor near me right now, one tired doggie.
March 19, 2013
It’s snowing today, and we are expecting about a foot. Since I am stuck in the house, and since Cecilia reminded me of an incident from my past, I thought I would share a story. Of course that story reminds me of another, so I will share it as well.
In my mercifully brief stint as a bachelor, I seemed to have a problem in that I would not remember to eat until I was hungry. Not having a microwave, that meant it would take way longer than my stomach wanted for any food to be ready.
I decided that I could speed things up if I made a big lasagna at the beginning of the week and then eat the leftovers every night after that until it was gone. This would surely solve the problem.
I made the lasagna, ate one serving, covered the pan with foil, and popped it in the fridge. It was delicious.
When I got hungry after work the next day, I popped the lasagna out of the fridge and into the oven. Wait 20 minutes, remove, take one serving, and pop it right back in the fridge. I did this every night for about a week.
At the end of the week, you can probably imagine that the lasagna was baked on the pan pretty solidly. I took one look at that and said to myself, “That’s going to have to soak.” I put the pan in the sink, added some dish soap, and filled it with water.
About a week later when I came to my apartment after work, my keen olfactory sense detected an odor. I followed my nose to the sink where the lasagna pan was still soaking, and did the most sensible thing that came to mind. I changed the water.
Another week passed, and again, the nose tipped me off to a slight problem in the kitchen sink. This time, I broke down and took the even more sensible action of actually washing the pan.
The other “bachelor” experience I had while living there involve my freezer. It was not frost free, and it had managed to build up a pretty thick layer of frost. I knew what to do, but didn’t have the tools I was used to using.
My Dad was an electrician and HVAC repairman, and as a result was also an expert at fixing broken refrigerators. I worked with him for a couple of summers when I was in college (and those were some of my best memories from back then – Dad was great, and was certainly the best boss I have ever had the pleasure of working for). Every now and then we would get a call from someone whose freezer had quit working. When we arrived, we found six inches of frost. Freezers don’t work when they get that way.
Dad didn’t mind defrosting someone’s fridge if they were paying him to do it, and it was often better for them to let him rather than do it the way people often did – by using a butter knife to chip the frost off themselves. The problem with that approach is that the thin aluminum walls of the freezer compartment also served as the outer sheath of the tubing through which the Freon would run. One slip of the knife, and the tube is punctured. The Freon escapes, and without that, neither the fridge nor the freezer are going to work. Aluminum is notoriously difficult – almost impossible – to solder, and replacing the freezer compartment cost almost as much as a new fridge.
It’s not that hard to defrost a fridge without a butter knife, but in spite of that, some people often elected to have him do that for them. He would use a hair dryer to speed the process.
Back to my apartment. I knew better than to use a butter knife, but I didn’t have a hair dryer. The engineer in me said, “Anything with a heating element ought to work” so I turned my thoughts to all of the appliances I had which were equipped with a heating element. Aha! The clothes iron! I was a bit worried that it would be a Bad Idea to put the iron in the fridge and have melted ice dripping all over it, so I placed the iron in a roasting pan, covered it with a lid, and turned it on.
While I was waiting for that to work its magic, I called Va. We were engaged, but lived 750 miles apart. I explained the ingenuity of my plan to defrost the fridge, and she asked me, “Why don’t you just use a pot of boiling water?”
Now why didn’t I think of that!
March 11, 2013
I am sitting at the airport in Omaha, Nebraska as I write this, though I was not expecting to be here right now. My journey here started a month or two ago when I was invited to sit on the North American Division Pathfinder Honors Taskforce. This is the committee that reviews submissions for new Pathfinder honors and revises existing ones. I was invited because of the work I have done on the AY Honors Answer Book wiki.
It was a thrill for me to have been invited. Pathfinder honors have been a pretty big part of my life for a number of years now. It was not to go without a few hiccups though. The first was that my club had scheduled March 9 for our annual Pathfinder Sabbath, during which we present the church service in its entirety. But I am blessed with a large and capable staff, so I figured they would be able to cope with my absence quite handily. So we pressed on with preparations.
Our presentation this year was to be similar to the one we did last year – a broadcast television newscast set in Biblical times. This year we decided to cover events from the Book of Mark. We pre-recorded all of our “live action reporters in the field” so that we could project their performances on the screen, while our anchor desk interacted with them live during the presentation.
But one week before we were to make our presentation, the hard drive containing all of our footage – every single second of it – was subjected to a most unfortunate accident. So we rescheduled for April 13. The upside to this is that I will be able to attend the performance, and the kids all knew their lines even better when we did the re-shoot.
But I digress. I am still sitting in the Omaha airport.
I flew out here on Friday and met my friend Mark. He is the webmaster for pathfindersonline.org (and other sites), and he too flew in to Omaha, but from the DC area. We decided to share a car, so he waited for my arrival. Then we set out for Lincoln. We picked up a couple of geocaches on the way. Our car was a tiny little Fiat. It was so tiny, that I think I could have lifted the whole thing with one hand.
There is a trick of geography near the Omaha airport. The Nebraska/Iowa border was originally set by the course of the Missouri River. But after the boundary was set, the river changed course, though the boundary did not. So there’s a little spit of land on the west side of the Missouri that still belongs to Iowa. It’s funny to drive through that section of Iowa and see the signs say “Welcome to Iowa” and then “Welcome to Nebraska” in the space of about a half mile.
The cache above was in Iowa, and it features a monument honoring York, a slave who belonged to William Clark. When we got to the monument, I looked at the sculpture, and it showed a black man being pawed over by several native Americans. I said to Mark, “Hey, I bet that’s York, a slave belonging to William Clark!” We walked around the back of the monument, and there was a plaque declaring as much. Talk about a guy feeling pretty smug!
On Saturday, we went all over the Lincoln area finding more geocaches. I think we found nine of them.
We also saw three bald eagles. Two of them were juveniles, and one was an adult. I got a bad photo of the juveniles, but couldn’t get one of the adult.
The meetings started Saturday night around 6:30pm. I very much enjoyed them, which is a strange thing to say about a meeting, but we were talking about a subject about which I am highly passionate.
When I woke up on Sunday morning, there was an inch of snow on the ground.
It was still snowing quite heavily, and the wind was blowing a gale. It was a full-fledged blizzard. I kept an eye on the situation, as I was slated to fly out from Omaha at 6:45pm. My meeting ended at noon, and the situation outside was looking pretty grim. I consulted with Va and with those in control of the Division’s purse strings, and we all agreed it would be best if I stayed put in Lincoln for one more day. It seemed foolhardy to tempt the roads in a toy car.
My instincts were correct. Mark’s wife and new baby (12 weeks old) were schedule to fly into Omaha Sunday afternoon too. They were twelve minutes from landing at Omaha when the airport was closed, and they sent the plane back to Minneapolis. Not to be deterred, she tried another flight, this one directly to Lincoln. They took off, gained some altitude, and then the Lincoln airport was likewise closed. So she landed again. I don’t know how many frequent flier miles that would be worth, but a trip from Minneapolis to Minneapolis is about zero miles, even if you do it twice.
Meanwhile, the Nebraska State Police closed Interstate 80, so even if she had landed at Omaha, she would have been very hard-pressed to make her way to Lincoln.
There were a ton of other meetings scheduled for Sunday all the way through Thursday, and all related to my youth ministries. I was invited to sit in on a subcommittee meeting going over some new Adventurer Awards. I asked Va to provide some input on one of them, and she sent it to me straight away. It took me a little longer to get her input to the subcommittee, but they were all very excited about it, and I think it will make it into the Award requirements.
Mark, a handful of other people, and I were treated to dinner at El Toro, an authentic Mexican restaurant in Lincoln. The food was very good, but I could only eat half of it. I took the rest back to my room and forgot it in the fridge.
Mark’s wife and baby eventually did make it to Lincoln, and she had a car (as per the plan). So I returned our toy Fiat to Omaha. Along the way, I counted 28 cars off the shoulder, stuck in the snow. Most (perhaps all) of them had police tape on them. None of them were barely off the shoulder either. They were all way down embankments, pointing every which way, and I thanked God He guided me (and Mark’s wife) away from that fate yesterday.
While I was waiting here for the storm to pass, David was in Concord playing in a chess tournament. It pretty much took all of Sunday, but he played four games and won all four of them. This bumped his ranking up to 1985 (15 to go David!) and he will have to enter the “open” section from now on. He won $200 in the under 1900 section (as he was ranked under 1900 when the tourney began). I am very proud of him, and wish I could have been there with him to share the moment. But we shared via text & voice, so it was almost like being there.
So now I find myself with a bit of downtime. I needed to get the car back here by 2:15 to avoid another day’s charges, but my plane doesn’t leave until 6:45.
So there is time to write a blog post.
February 9, 2013
I put on my snowshoes late this afternoon and walked around the house. Even though we have deep snow covering the ground, Penny still managed to find several sticks that she just knew I wanted to throw for her.
The next photo shows a hole that had two sets of squirrel tracks. One leading to it, and the other leading away.
Now I wish I had prepositioned my snowblower last night. Instead, it’s pinned in the garage by my car, and the only way to get it out is to back the car out. Before I can do that, I will have to shovel out a place to back the car to.
February 1, 2013
Wednesday on my way home, I stopped at Sandogardy Pond to look at the snow. It was the middle of a weekday, so no one else was there. It was the first day of a warm up following days of bitter cold. Though the temperature was barely above freezing, it was enough to create a fairly dense fog. That makes photography something of a challenge, but I did what I could:
This guy was out on the ice doing sentry duty.
Since then, the temperature continued to increase and was accompanied by heavy rain. The roads turned to mud and my beloved snow was washed away. We had a slight dusting today though, but it doesn’t come close to replenishing the ground cover. The forecast says we can expect a couple of inches on Sunday though.
But I want more.