24 Jun 2011

So, where have I been and what have I been up to? Still here, just been distracted by several new hobbies and, things. Here’s what’s been going on:

1. The second hummingbird nest – and babies – came to a sad end. Unfortunately the mother picked a bad place for the nest, up at the top of our fishpond shading. A crow apparently saw the nest from above, came down and tried to grab the babies through the shade cloth, but got both in his mouth. He wasn’t able to fly off because the shade cloth was anchored, so he dropped both. Their poor little tiny bodies were found on the ground, 10 feet below the nest; I buried them side by side in a grave – nature is harsh 🙁

2. Days later, Midi got all excited to go outside, which usually means    there’s something running around in the yard. This time it was a baby
possum, and – good thing for him – he hid under a raised planter pot.
After fishing him out I briefly thought of trying to domesticate him
as a slightly unusual pet (imagining what it would be like to walk
around with him on my shoulder – I’m weird that way). I thought better
of it and tried to let him go, but of course he was doing the “playing
possum” thing, doing a fine impersonation of being dead – they
don’t even breath. Anyway, this picture was taken as he was waking
up, sort of grinning/growling/drooling at me. He was so small though
that he wasn’t fooling anyone. (It’s almost eerie how human-like their
hands are). I hope he has a good life and doesn’t get eaten or run-over
anytime soon.

3. My old aviation snips finally worn out so I went to pick up new ones at Home Depot. Boy, things have changed in the last 16-years. They have a much wider selection of cutters, including these offset versions (on the right) that weren’t available before. Man, I wish I had these back when making Kimini; they’re MUCH better for cutting panels. The offset design completely avoids the panel distortion caused by the non-offset version (at left.) This tip’s definitely going in the book.

4. And then there’s the solar oven. Yes, that’s right, I’ve always wanted to build one and when I get interested in something new, I obsess over it until I’ve learned the design, then I have to build one. Of course I couldn’t just build a “normal” one, as they all have various short-comings. This one’s got a stainless inner cooker box, double-pane glass, a heck of a lot of insulation, and a real oven door. Spent the last couple weeks on that, and today was the big day to try it out, my wife prepared a pot of beans for its inauguration. It worked awesome; the highest temperature (in the bottom of the box) was 266 deg F – not bad. It was very neat to lift the lid and see the beans simmering and boiling, all for free. Pretty cool.

Then there’s the vague pull toward building an ice-maker which uses no electricity, no moving parts, and makes 10-20 lbs of ice every day, and makes double that in the summer. On the other hand, so it gets built… then what? Not much point, though it does spawn bigger ideas of home air-conditioning using no electricity, but I digress. I love building stuff, so maybe that’ll happen sometime in the future.

So, yeah, the car… Well, I’ve been thinking through over the last few weeks why nothing’s been happening – besides the above distractions.
It’s because I built a car before! I figured out that the reason why the paneling was such a mental drag is that, having already done a set of panels for Kimini, the exciting newness of learning a skill is gone… now it’s just… work. It’s the same with other projects I’ve done. First time I built a chain link fence it was very interesting. The second fence I had to make was… work. First time I painted the house it was really interesting; the next time I’ll hire painters, it’s not fun any more.

Anyway, now that that’s understood and having come to terms with it (and coincidentally, finished up the backpacking equipment buying and oven designing), it’s time to get back to the car. I have next week off so you’ll start seeing updates again.