Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Visual representations / Word clouds

As you like have gathered if you follow this blog often, I like images. I saw a mosaic of words weighted by their frequency of use in the recent federal government throne speech. It fires my imagination to view information in new ways.

Yesterday I saw one ranking different health supplements against a "worth it" line. I couldn't help but check it out when I saw the url listed as

Snake oil? Oh pahleeze! I love it. In the upper right hand corner there is a tab to click on that allows one to play around with the data. I also love that the data sources are quoted.

Here's one on what the Chinese government censors online. Tremendous.

created at

New website launch

After a lot of trail and error my new work site is launched at long last. Please have a peek around the new look.

There are a lot of content changes and images to add, a blog to move and an image gallery to configure, but it's a good start I think. It no longer looks like it was built in 1995 either! A real web developer is a good thing. Thanks Chris.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Soft solder repairs are bad... stop it!

I see a lot of soft solder repairs like this. I'm not sure what the attraction is, but it's always bad. Solder like this is corrosive and rarely remains bound to what it was meant to fixture. I've got an entire folder of images titled "notme" to remind me to behave myself. Hopefully I'll have a place to showcase some of those images shortly. I smell a new website for work coming!


Monday, March 22, 2010

Grammostola rosea - Chilean rose

Such a garden variety tarantula these are, but they don't put up much of a fuss which makes them attractive in their own way. This G. rosea was out on tour last night entertaining the company so I took advantage of the photo opp.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Pussy willows

Spring is coming. What a typical early spring day on the prairie. A wind that could suck the life out of you, temperatures that would be warm if the darned wind wasn't howling and pussy willows!

The girls went for a long walk today along the two mile loop around by Terry's. The walk follows the escarpment above the Roseau River and then back through to the road and home. Bonnie got some great shots of bad ice as the last of the ice clings to the banks of the river. Apparently a quarter section of land straddling looks exotic to a Korean student. It still does to me. Trauma Farm... again.


Frosty's model dragster

There is nothing like the smell of nitro in the morning, no? Here's what Frosty has been up to this winter. I'm a lot of things, but a gear head would rank up near the top, at least in my non-tree hugging moments.

That's some fine machine work dude!

I haven't made anything recently that has moved me to show my efforts at the Estevan Model Engineers Show, but I have in the past. Rubbing shoulders with some of the finest men working in metal is a humbling treat of treats.

I got an email this morning from the organizer of the show, Kelly T., in Estevan, prompting us to fess up to what we had been working on this winter. Frosty apparently has been a very busy guy, but, like most projects like this I expect it's been under construction for longer than our short winter. If not, I will be sure to bow down and kiss the rubber stained pavement beneath the wheels of this little beast when I see it in action in the fall... hopefully.

The craftsman museum has a great write up on the 609 and it's maker. I want to hear that angry little engine. I'm thrilled by the sound of good ignition. As silly as that sounds, it's very true. Goose flesh rises for any good song.

The image below is linked to the museum entry.

Friday, March 19, 2010

More laser welding magic

I've done repairs for and business with Gold-N-Memories in Steinbach for many years. They are wonderful people to deal with. No hissy fits when the train comes off the tracks, no blame game, just an interest in getting to the station in once piece with smiles all round. More joy! How can that be a bad thing?

They are the only wholesale account I kept once I began to concentrate only on freelancing. I didn't want to go in to deliver and pick up work there today. I would have rather stayed home in the shop, but it turned out to be a lot of fun.

I had left a dial for Andy, the goldsmith, to look at. He's become very good with a very powerful tool in his laser welder and I'm getting more imaginative about the things I ask him to fix for me.

Today the task was to fixture the two broken dial feet back onto the dial of an old Seiko wrist watch. I should have left something recognisable in the shot below, but forgot and don't have time enough to play. I think the alignment pin showing in the image below might measure 1.5mm and that's a pretty weld where Andy has attached it back from whence it came. How handy is that? Lovely!

Dials sometimes go wonky after they suffer a shock. The mass of the dial is just too much for the tiny alignment pins, or feet, to support and wango tango off they come. Usually these have to be jury rigged or incur some serious expense, but not now! Thanks Andy! His custom jewellery work is very good on many levels.


Here's a rough casting of Andy's from last week that shows a stage where your custom piece might begin it's precious metal life. He makes these up in wax before casting them


Build-it-yourself Saab 900 Turbo

For all those with some boy left to celebrate. Download the pdf file and get to it. Spend some time with a young one that could use some one on one time. Whatever, just do it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I saw the largest flock of wild turkeys today that I've ever seen anywhere in the wild. They were beside the road a mile north of the house. A good mix of younger toms and hens with one monster tom ruling the flock. The sun was bright, the temperature warm and the display was fantastic. I think there were about thirty of these wild turkeys mulling about.

In true rural tradition, a neighbour pulled up and together we blocked the road completely while we had a jaw and enjoyed the brilliant morning gifts without interuption.

Trauma Farm is everywhere in my life just now. I think spring is taking over first place as my favourite season.

The image below was from a photo opportunity a few years ago when a friend showed up here with a wild turkey in the back seat of his old beater. He often shows up with wild critters he's saved from death and wanting to use my scale to determine how well they are growing. Phil deserves a post, but I'll wait until I can get some fresh images from his place. Fresh and Phil don't often come to mind at the same time. He's an outdoor friend Phil is.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Arachnid quote of the day


When I was more active with the Manitoba Herpetocultural Society I arranged for Stanley Schultz to give a presentation on arachnids one evening on his way through Winnipeg. It was filled with his expert theory of how he believes tarantulas should be kept in captivity. It was insightful and informative and he was an energetic speaker.

He travels around North America full time seeking out arachno geeks wherever he goes. His comments pop up on many of the major arachnid sites on the web, including arachnoboards, the American Tarantula Society board and any number of smaller email lists and web groups.

I don't know how long this piece has been included in his signature, but I noticed it today on a comment he made to the yahoo group, arachnid_world and laughed heartily. Good one Stanley!

"I know I'll never understand women. I'll never understand how you can take boiling hot wax, pour it onto your upper thigh, rip the hair out by the roots, and still be afraid of a spider."

The Tarantula Whisperers!
Stan Schultz
Marguerite Schultz
Co-authors of The Tarantula Keeper's Guide,
now in its third edition.

\|/ \|/
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~| |~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Stan Schultz | | the holes
Marguerite Schultz | | in your
Somewhere in North America | | path hold
PHONE: (517) 575-8685 | | large hairy
FAX: None. Sorry. |*| spiders!
(The sig is best viewed with monospaced fonts.)

Online glasses

I've had such a good experience buying glasses online it's difficult not to slap you all with my enthusiasm.

First time buyers get 25% off if you use the code from Glassyeyes. Coastal are the cream of the crop. No corners cut there, but not likely the best value. From what I can gather, Zenni remains the best value.

Boo just bought three pair of prescription glasses from another online vendor and one pair had issues, but not enough to keep her from wearing them. Her bill? $123.00

How is that not worth checking out? Be brave.

Fast geese

On my way to the barn to feed the cats and chickens this morning, there were a few speed freaks overhead.

A small flock of about a dozen geese (Greater Canada) went by. The wind really hadn't come up on the ground yet, but it was obviously clipping along at a pretty good pace above the trees. I presume that my perception of their incredibly quick traverse of the yard was partly due to their close proximity, but whoa! Were they ever moving.

Rural gems that ease my worried soul.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Acoustic guitar pickup

Happy birthday to me... happy birthday to me...

New bowls

I'm a bowl guy. I lived with an artist many years ago and that helped trained me to use and love hand made bowls. I usually buy my bowls when I go west to see M&P, but my favourite potter there has flown the coup for greener pastures in Calgary so I came home empty handed.

I decided to dedicate some time to sourcing some local potters and today was the first step in that search. The University of Manitoba ceramics artists were holding a sale for the first three days of this week in the University Centre building.

I was there early enough this morning to ensure I had a good selection. I managed to come away with two bowls that were to my liking and am looking forward to a fund raiser that will feature nothing but bowls on April 11th at the U. of M. I'll be there with bells on.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Electric guitar schemes

This is the prettiest thing I've seen in a while. I wish my own executive function could have produced it, but that was not to be. Thanks to Chris for beating me to it and for helping develop my ear for electric guitars.

This is so darned elegant looking, don't you think? Now that the sweater is finished, the guitar rebuild is taking shape. At least it is shaping up in my mind.


Did we leave anything out? <>

Coil 1: neck top
coil 2: neck bottom

Coil 3: middle

Coil 4: bridge top
Coil 5: bridge bottom

Position 1, split off, series off: coil 1 and 2 in parallel
Position 1, split on, series off: coil 1 on coil 2 off
Position 1, split off, series on: coil 1 and 2 in series
Position 1, split on, series on: coil 1 and 2 off (guitar is muted)

Position 2, split off, series off: coil 1 and 2 in parallel, coil 3 on
Position 2, split on, series off: coil 1 on, coil 2 off, coil 3 on
Position 2, split off, series on: coil 1 and 2 in series, coil 3 on
Position 2, split on, series on: coil 1 and 2 off, coil 3 on (middle coil on only)

Position 3, split off: coil 3 on, coil 4 and 5 in parallel
Position 3, split on: coil 3 on, coil 4 off, coil 5 on

Position 4, split off, series off: coil 1 and coil 2 in parallel, coil 4 and 5 in parallel
Position 4, split on, series off: coil 1 on, coil 2 off, coil 4 off, coil 5 on (outside pairs on)
Position 4, split off, series on: coil 1 and 2 in series, coil 4 and 5 in parallel (I'm guessing there'll be a little low end from the neck and a lot of treble from the bridge)
Position 4, split on, series on: coil 1 and 2 off, coil 4 off, coil 5 on (single bridge pickup sound)

Chris dropped off one of these tonight. I'm going to have to find some time to play with it a bit. Fun eh?
Korg AX3000G The manual is kinda hefty.

Weejuan winds down the Thailand tour

Our eldest is in the home stretch of a busy trip to Cambodia and Thailand. Her last week will be spent snorkeling from the white sand beaches of Koh Samet. I think she's getting her fair share of fun out of this month long dance. Good on her!

Google images of Kho Samet

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Coyote whelping

The outside dog, Tom, was coming unglued tonight with the racket from the coyotes. One or more had obviously whelped today and the party was on. What a display of "Where the Wild Things Are" it is to be standing out in the drizzle and fog while a half dozen coyotes sound like twenty five, very close by.

I've hiked and camped and spent lots of time as a kid romping around the bush, but moments like these require a more frequent engagement for me to catch well. It's like the fire flies that burst onto the scene like fairy dust on just the right night, or the deer kill when my ears pick up the sound of it a half mile away like it was right beside me. Or any of a thousand other threads that root me to the earth from which I'll rejoin.

I'm filled with thoughts of the beautiful tragedy of Mother Nature as I read my way through Brian Brett's Trauma Farm. Thanks Mum. It's like a warm fire on a cold winter night.

Blue pill or Red pill?

Red pill


Monday, March 8, 2010

Laura's Wild Edibles

wild adventure poster_Gardenton_May'10

wild adventure poster_Gardenton_July10

The link in the title takes you some images taken during a workshop I attended in 2007. I really enjoy Laura's energy. It's seemingly boundless. I met her while I was helping guide some elementary school kids through a tour of the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve in Gardenton. Laura won me over in the first fifteen minutes of the tour when she suggested we take the kids in the swamp to get them good and wet early in the day. Her sense of play in firmly rooted to say the least. Some of the teachers were less impressed. The kids learnt a lot that day.


Mark you calendars for Laura's "You can eat that?!" Wild Edible Adventures!

Saturday, May 15
Saturday, July 3

Location: Gardenton, MB (1 hour south of Winnipeg)

These hands-on workshops will teach you plant identification skills, harvesting techniques and how to incorporate common wild edibles into everyday meals. The plants
or plant parts used will depend on the season. Examples of past menu
items include: milkweed fritters, stinging nettle soup, curried chickpeas and cattails, wild mushrooms, cattail "corn" bread, burdock root, wild salad, dandelion wild mint cake
and various types of teas or coffee.

Cost is only $75 if you register early! (See attached posters for registration deadlines.)

Class size is limited to 12 to maximize your hands-on experience, so sign up soon!

Please forward this to anyone who may be interested. I would also be grateful to anyone who can print a poster and hang it up at their workplace (or anywhere!).

Hope to see you this spring!

Laura Reeves




More Sunday reading material

Another in the entry for the Sunday kitchen table reading material series. I do the maintenance on the machines. PU's dedicated to helping the less than adorable in society's off spring. Admirable, but definitely an acquired taste. Empathy is a defining concept everywhere I look.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Wild origami images

Say what you will. I'd hate to be without the distraction of the Internet.

Here's a guy that's into sharing, for those that need to do something with their hands. Boo? Are you listening. :D

Petr Stuchly' origami images.

Petr's older Flickr account

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Olympus FE-110

Ya, ya, ya, I need more sleep. That's a constant.

I need a camera to do macro well. I need to document my work and most of that is small. I can show clients what they are buying if I can get a decent representation of the work. I also like to give people good photographic evidence of their time pieces in case they ever go missing or get damaged.

Dad gave me this five year old Olympus to play with and it's turned out to be a superb little camera for close up work. For a 5 megapixel camera I can hardly believe the high quality of the close up shots. This one below was shot today, hand held, compressed and saved in jpg format which is not the best for quality, yet I continue to be impressed. I'd buy another one of these little cameras anytime. I bet used, they are dirt cheap.


Snoot's first pizza

I'm so grateful to have reared three kids that know their way around the kitchen. I'm down right proud of it. Snoot was having a bad hair day and at 16 years old that's not a good thing. So she was shy of the camera. The hair was not bad enough to stop her making a beautiful stuffed crust pizza though. Yummers. I even had an IPA on hand to swill with the this brilliant offering.

I was not in the kitchen for any of this effort. Home made crust and all. Life is good.



Pendulum restoration

More fun in the shop. I've done work for these folks for a long time. I found a crack in the bottom of their perfectly serviceable wooden pendulum rod and thought I'd add some value to the quoted work. I'm not really big on wood work. It's not like metal at all. Metal usually behaves predictably. My experiences with wood are less.

I brought in a blank from eastern Canada that was far too large, but was very happy when I unpacked it and saw what I had. The wood was obviously old, dry and hard. Lovely. I felt like there was a good chance to make a good job of this.

I cut it to width and thickness with an old wooden (German) hand plane and then shaped it into a lens profile by hand with a rasp. Several grits of sand paper got it all down to a very fine surface finish I thought. It's not pictured here, but it was stained then waxed with a lot of elbow grease. Some days I love my job. Especially when it secures a classic fifteen minute all day job like this.


Psycho dinner conversation

I live with someone that has a seemingly endless capacity to absorb and then put into practice these types of lessons. Dinner conversation is often not for the faint of heart. She's been at this for many years. She can tell a mean story if you can ask the right questions. I like to think I helped her cut her teeth. Joke! It's a joke damn it!

She's some kind of good at this stuff from what I can gather. A specialist in repulsive behaviour. I just don't feel the same draw, you know?

Now she's speaking to large rooms filled with other professionals on this topic. The fun they must have! Me? I'll be in the shop.
Mr. Noncompliant



Laser welder glee

Could laser welders be more fun? Not a hint of heat to this weld which means that all the spring remains in the surrounding steel. Brilliant! Now if I could just remember to include a penny to show how darn small this part is. Gha!


Finished sweater

Proof positive that the deed is done. What tremendous pleasure it is to wear it. It is a meditative sport, knitting. One I'm sure to return to. I had my first trails with double pointed needles when I was on the coast. Could socks be next? Socks and tuque remain on the bucket list.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Visiting M&P

Home from a week on the wet/left coast. The older I get the more I enjoy my parents company. Dad made up shortbread to send home and Mum slipped some budding daffodils, a Greek geranium cutting and a few healthy sprigs of rosemary into my bag on the way out.

Brother Bruce came up from Seattle for the weekend and brought his usual treasure trove of laughs with him. Some fine IPA's too. PU refers to an IPA as an Indiana Pale Ale which I thought was very funny.

I played a lot of guitar while I was there and maybe more importantly I saw the end of the sweater project. It's done! Not surprisingly, it shows off some "gotchas" of a novice knitter. I'm happy enough with the effort and was glad to celebrate it with Mum. She was very generous in her support throughout. I have three skeins remaining. Now what? Like there is a shortage of ideas on any of the gazillion fronts I seem to mismanage regularly.