I managed to injure my left leg when I was wrestling around with those massive batteries for the solar power system so my physical activity was seriously limited for a couple of weeks. Yesterday was the first day I felt comfortable enough to get out on the bike for an extended ride, and it was a great day to start. Was absolutely beautiful out with temps in the high 70s and a gentle breeze.
I injured my left calf pretty seriously back in the 1990s in a farm accident. Took me 6 weeks to recover from that one and ever since I’ve had to be cautious with that leg. Lugging 100 lb batteries down the basement stairs and into the battery cabinet didn’t do the leg any good. Neither did repeatedly kneeling down on the floor to work on wiring.
Out in the gardens the irises are coming into full bloom. They don’t bloom for very long but when they do that whole area is covered with these amazing flowers in brilliant blue, purple and yellow. When the sun hits them the colors are so brilliant they almost glow.
More solar stuff: I really need to do some meaningful testing of the EG4 system to get some basic data about run times and things like that. I can guess how long the batteries will last when running the house off the EG4 system but I don’t have any actual operational data giving me actual run times under particular sets of circumstances and things like that. Two days ago I started it up, took the house off-grid and ran entirely from the EG4 system starting at 7 AM and ending at 3 PM, a total of 8 hours. At the end of that time the batteries were still at about 78% capacity because we had a pretty good day for solar production. While that was interesting I really need to see how long I can run the house just off the batteries, with no solar power at all.
The string of Newpowa panels have been peaking at around 1,000 watts, and the HQST panels at around 600 watts. That’s less their rated peak output which should be around 1,320 and 800 respectively. The HQST panels were putting out close to 700W earlier this year so I know they can do better than what I’m seeing. And the weather was clear with bright sunshine…
Or was it? The sky looked clear when looking straight up, but if you’d look towards the horizon it was a different story. The wind shifted again and we’re back to getting air quality alerts because of the forest fires in Canada. It looks clear and sunny but it really isn’t. There is a significant amount of fine particulate material floating around in the atmosphere that is cutting back on the amount of solar radiation that is reaching the ground. What it boils down to is that I theoretically have enough solar out there to take my batteries from about 50% to near 100% in one day of full sun. In reality, with variable cloud conditions and the smoke from the fires, I’m lucky if I get half of that.
(And I can sure tell there are air quality problems with my allergies, too. I was up at 3 AM this morning with my head so stuffed up I could hardly breathe. I gave up trying to get back to sleep. Since all of this air quality stuff started I’ve been having problems sleeping, stuffed up sinuses, etc. Makes it very hard for me to stay asleep. I’ve generally been waking up around 3 or 4 AM and find it almost impossible to get back to sleep again. Running on four or five hours of sleep is unpleasant. Sigh…)
Speaking of battery charging I got one of these in earlier this week from Signature Solar, the EG4 Chargeverter, a 48V battery charger that plugs into a 240V AC power source to rapidly recharge LiFePo batteries. This thing can put out up to 100 Amps which means it could fully recharge my 15 KWh of batteries in just 3 hours. It’s only been on the market for a few months and I’m curious to see how well it works so when I get a chance to check it out I’ll talk about it in the future.
Now why would someone need one of these? After all a lot of modern inverters like my EG4 6500EX already have built in AC battery chargers. I could wire my EG4s directly to the house’s AC power and they would automatically keep the batteries topped up even when there is no solar. But a lot of these systems are sold to people who are entirely off the grid. They have no connection to the grid at all. (And my system has no grid connection.) If they don’t get enough solar power to keep their batteries topped up, they have to resort to using a gasoline powered generator to charge them up. And that’s where the problems come in. These cheap, gasoline generators often produce very dirty power that isn’t even close to a pure sine wave and which can damage electronics. This chargeverter apparently doesn’t care how dirty the AC power coming into it may be. So if you’re living entirely off the grid, or if you’re going through an extended blackout and there isn’t enough solar to keep the batteries charged, you could plug this thing into a cheap Harbor Freight generator to charge your batteries and not have to worry about damaging anything.
I have a 7,500W Generac gasoline generator sitting out in the garage and this thing should plug right into it so I’ll be testing this out in the near future. If it works as advertised it will probably be kept permanently wired up to the bus bars in the battery cabinet. I doubt if it will get much use but it could come in very handy if we have an extended power outage.
What I’ll probably do is run my batteries down to about 25% and then try charging them with the chargeverter connected to the Generac and see what happens.
The weather finally moved into a warmer, drier pattern here in east central Wisconsin and the plants responded by going nuts to make up for lost time. This is really the perfect time of year here, climate speaking. It’s warmer, sunnier, and the mosquitoes have yet to emerge to drive us back into the house.
We made a lot of changes out in the gardens, but you can’t really tell unless you look closely. One thing we are doing again is putting peppers along the south side of the house. That narrow strip of ground between the house and the grass produced a fantastic crop of peppers of various types last year so we’re going to do it again.
We did something different this year with starting seedlings. We used to put a sort of mini green house in the livingroom in front of a south facing window to start seeds but the results were mixed. The seedlings were often spindly and weak and suffered from severe transplant shock. This year we set the mini greenhouse up in the basement with some inexpensive grow lights we got off Amazon along with a heating pad designed for seedling trays. That system worked amazingly well. The peppers, tomatoes and other seeds we started were all thriving in that environment.
Every year we like to try at least one new thing we’ve never grown before and this year it’s brussel sprouts. MrsGF and I both like them a lot so we thought we’d try growing our own and see what happens. They’re a late season crop, usually not harvested until after the first frost they tell me. Brussel sprouts have a bit of a bad reputation, but over the last decade or so the flavor has changed drastically thanks to new varieties that have been introduced. The new varieties have a milder, less bitter flavor, along with a better texture.
And it’s lilac season here in town. There are lilacs all over town, including in our backyard. It seems to be people’s favorite bush around here, and when they all come into bloom around the same time the whole town smells of lilacs. Another reason why I love this time of year.
–> We’ve been under air quality warnings for some time now because of smoke from massive forest fires up in Canada. Down at ground level it’s hard to tell but it’s especially easy to see early in the morning right at sunrise. Off to the east right now at around 6 AM it looks like there’s a thick haze up there. I feel sorry for those poor people up there. Huge areas of forests have burned off already, whole communities are under evacuation orders. It’s pretty bad.
The DNR hasn’t been helping air quality here either. They were doing this the other day…
They’ve been burning off marshes around here adding to the already poor air quality. I was told you could see the smoke from this one for 20 miles and could smell it over the entire county.
–> The biofuel industry is continuing to try to desperately to put off its impending demise as long as possible. We live in a world where it seems we are on an inevitable course to switch to electric powered everything, including transportation, garden tools and everything else that is currently being powered by the burning of some kind of fuel. And that means the entire biofuel industry is about to crash and burn because there isn’t going to be a market for its product any more. That hasn’t stopped them from trying to rake in as much cash as they can until the end comes. It looks like they’ve succeeded in pushing for an increase in sales of 15% ethanol blended gasoline and now they’re pushing for more mandates to blend biodiesel into traditional fuels. Diesel fuel is probably going to be the last gasp for this. Trying to make long haul trucks and trains to run off electricity has been difficult because of the huge power demands so those will probably remain for some time after automobiles and light trucks have gone full electric.
What they really need to be doing is trying to slowly and carefully shut down the whole biofuel system to avoid a massive financial crash that will ripple through the whole agricultural sector. Continuing to invest in biofuels at this point in time is sort of like someone heavily investing in horse drawn carriages right after Ford came out with the Model T.
Now that I’ve been actually using the solar power system for a few days I’ve run into a few interesting quirks. First the solar charging system. Other people with the EG4 6500EX inverter, or who are thinking of buying one, have been following along so I thought I’d warn you about this.
Up in that photo are 5 new 220W solar panels from Newpowa. I picked up 6 of those because I badly need more solar but I don’t have a lot of space to put them. These from Newpowa were the smallest size 200W panels I could find and that’s why I bought ’em. The charger in the EG4 is rated between 80V to 500V input from solar. That’s the minimum amount of voltage it takes to “trigger” so to speak the charger, and the maximum voltage it can handle from the solar panels.
Those five panels in series were putting out about 91 volts, which should have been enough to make the charger work properly. But apparently not. When I plugged them into the EG4 it looked like I was only getting about 450 – 500 watts out of panels that should have been putting out at least 75% – 90% of their rated capacity under the conditions I had that day. They were putting out half of what they should have.
I went back out, checked all of the connectors, all of the wires, made sure I had everything wired properly and couldn’t find any problems. The EG4 has two solar chargers so I plugged into the second one. Nope, same thing, I was only getting a little over 500W under full sun.
Grr, so now what… Could it be that 91V wasn’t enough? I had one more panel that I didn’t have room for. I shuffled things around and connected up all six panels and then checked. I was now getting a bit over 100V and…920W? Yeah, 920 watts. Adding that one panel, kicking the voltage up another 10V doubled the amount of power the panels were putting out.
So apparently that 80V lower limit on the solar charger in the EG4 isn’t quite accurate. I had to push 100V into it in order to get the charge controller to get it to work properly. So if you have one of these things and you aren’t getting the wattage out of your solar panels you think you should, check your voltage. If your panels are putting out less than 100V that could be it.
The other oddity is also related to solar charging. Before I configured the two inverters to work in parallel I was using one inverter alone for testing. It exhibits some interesting behavior. If I had the inverter physically turned off with the switch on the front panel and plugged solar power into it, it would turn itself on and start charging the batteries.
I personally find this a bit troubling. If I have a device that is physically turned off, I expect it to remain off. Period. Now I can understand why they might do this. If you’ve been using the system from battery only and drain the batteries down and shut the system off, it might then start to recharge the batteries automatically when it begins to get solar power. It turned on only the solar charger, not the inverter, so it wasn’t putting out AC so that was something at least.
Once I put the two units in parallel, that behavior changed. When I plugged solar into the turned off master inverter, it would still turn itself on with the power switch turned off. But it wouldn’t actually charge the batteries. It looked like it was in charging mode but it really wasn’t. It indicated it was getting only 47W of power out of solar panels that were putting out 500W. Eventually I figured out that both units need to be physically turned on with the power switch before it will now start actually charging the batteries. I find that disappointing as well. I’d prefer to be able to do what I did before, which was to use the unit to charge the batteries without having to switch the inverters on. Running an inverter while it’s just “idling” along without drawing power from it uses a small but still significant amount of power from the system. Each inverter takes somewhere between 70 – 90 watts of power, or 140W – 180W for the pair. And that’s 140+ watts that could be going into the batteries.
One last observation. These things aren’t exactly quiet. The fans on the EG4s run all the time the units are operating, and depending on the load on the units those fans quickly ramp up in speed. Tucked away in the basement this isn’t a problem but if you’re putting them near a living space some people could find the fans more than a little annoying.
One last thing about the solar system. I finally got the batteries mounted in the cabinet. And found that my existing battery cables going from the inverters to the batteries are too short because of course they are. So it’s time to get out the crimping tools and spend even more money on overpriced copper cable. Always something…
We moved the two raised beds from the north side of the backyard to the south side. In the previous location they were starting to get shaded out by a fast growing maple tree and a spruce tree. Growing conditions there were getting worse every year. Now that the ash tree is gone the area where we moved them now gets full sun all day long. Moving them was simple but took a lot of physical labor. Had to shovel out all of the dirt in them, drag them over to the new location and then shovel all the dirt back into them.
We’re doing some decorative work as well. An old, crumbling stone wall is being pulled out along the west side of the garage and being replaced with block, so we got a pallet full of blocks coming in the near future.
I’m not looking forward to that project. I am, at heart, a lazy person when it comes right down to it. I’ve developed an allergy to hard physical labor over the last few years. Still, it needs to get done.
Let’s see, what else? Oh, I found this while I was biking around the other day and I had to stop and take a picture of it.
We have some interesting people around here, including some who are pretty good folk artists. From the road I thought this was a real person for a brief moment when I saw the hi-viz vest.
And let’s finish up with a cat.
We had to take care of our youngest son’s cat for a few days while he was on vacation and she, being a cat, decided she owned the house.
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So, on Monday, May 1, this is what it looked like outside my front door at 5 AM.
Yes, that’s snow. Nice weather we get here. This is why I haven’t been talking about gardening and bicycling and drone flying and putting up photos of pretty flowers and all that stuff. We had two or three days of summer like weather in March with temperatures in the 80s, and ever since then it’s been like this… cold, wet, cloudly, and now snow. Welcome to Wisconsin. Sigh… The weather has since gotten a bit better. It’s still been so cloudy with occasional rain that we’ve been making pretty much zero solar power. Again, sigh… Of course I shouldn’t complain. I have a friend who lives about 100 miles north of here in the upper peninsula of Michigan and over last week or so he got 52 inches of snow.
What I wanted to talk about is that someone asked why I need two inverters bolted to the wall and not just one. Just one of those inverters can supply 6.5 KW of power, as much as my big Generac gasoline generator, and enough to run almost the entire house as long as we’re careful. So why do I need two of them?
Partly it’s a question of capacity. 6.5 KW is a bit close to the edge for us, so to speak, at least as far as normal daily life is concerned. We may complain about our electric bill but we do like appliances like our coffee makers, our convection oven, etc. With just one inverter there would be times we would be pushing over that 6.5 KW limit. Two inverters give us a comfortable cushion.
The biggest reason though is that we also need 240V power to run some of the appliances in the house. For that we need both inverters. Initially I’m not going to be hooking any 240 appliances into this system because I don’t have eno0ugh batteries and solar panels to handle it, but eventually that’s going to change so I wanted a system that could be switched over easily in the future.
WTF is 240V split phase?
The average person doesn’t know, and doesn’t need to know, what actually goes on in the electrical system of the house. As long as your toaster or computer or TV works when it’s plugged into the wall and the lights turn on when the switch is flipped, that’s all they care about. And for most people that’s fine. But if you want to switch your home to an alternative energy system you need to know what’s going on behind the scenes.
While most of the systems in your house run on 120 VAC, in all likelihood there are some that require more power than a normal 120V line can supply. Things like electric water heaters, clothes dryers, electric stoves, well pumps, etc. will often run on 240V, not 120. The amount of power these appliances require would overload the normal 120V wiring systems in the house. So let me explain what’s going on without this getting complicated.
Well it’s going to get complicated anyway but let’s see what I can do.
What you have coming into your house is two, 120V AC power lines, not one. The two lines can be combined inside your circuit breaker panel to give you 240V to power more power hungry appliances like HVAC systems and clothes dryers.
If you took the front panel off of the main circuit breaker panel in your house it would looks something like the one in the photo below.
Now you’ll notice a couple of things right away if you look at that photo up there carefully. Note that there are two rows of circuit breakers, not one. There is a reason for that and I’ll come to that in a minute.
The next thing I want you to look at is right at the top center of that picture. You’ll see three thick wires coming in from the top. One is black, the 2nd is marked with red tape, and the third runs off to the right of center and is marked with white. Those three lines are what comes in from the service panel attached to the outside of your house and which, in turn, is fed from the utility company. The black wire and the red are the two 120V lines coming into the house and the white is the neutral line.
In your panel are two metal strips called busbars that the two hot wires (sometimes called legs because why not) connect to. Each busbar runs the length of the panel. The circuit breakers in the panel connect to those busbars to get the power that they then send out to the wires that lead to the outlets, lights, etc. in your house.
The circuit breakers on the left side of the panel get their power from L1, and the ones on the right get their power from L2.. Each busbar provides 120V.
So how do you get the 240V? Look at the top of the right row of breakers and you’ll see what looks like two breakers that are joined into one by a bar that connects the two switches together. That’s a 240V breaker.
Well, sort of. It doesn’t actually give you 240V. What it does is tap into both of the busbars at the same times, and lets you run two, 120V hot wires to whatever device that breaker breaker powers. The appliance that circuit energizes can combine both to provide 240V or use the individual 120V lines to power individual circuits in the appliance.
So if you want to design an alternative power system to run your whole house through your existing electrical system, you need a system that provides 120V to both L1 and L2, a 240 split phase system as they call it. And no, I can’t just feed 120V from a single source into both busbars at the same time because L1 and L2 are 180 degrees out of phase with one another and that is important. Or so they tell me.
Okay, so what’s with this phase stuff? Well it gets even more complicated and there is a hell of a lot of misinformation out there about what’s generally called “240V split phase”. There are people out there who will try to tell you that you need 240V split phase to power two phase motors, only there really aren’t any two phase motors out there and there haven’t been in many, many years. Or they’ll tell you you need split phase for electronics which is total BS because almost all modern electronics run off DC not AC…
Okay, look, the reason you have split phase coming into your home… Oh, hell, let’s look at what they’re talking about first of all.
AC stands for alternating current, and it’s called that because it, well, alternates. It doesn’t provide a steady positive voltage the way DC does. It alternates from plus to minus at 60 cycles per second. If you were to hook an oscilloscope up to an AC power line what you’d see on the screen is something like what you see in the picture over there on the left.
If you could look at both L1 and L2 at the same time on an oscilloscope it would look something like the picture over there on the right. The two are 180 degrees out of phase.
Why do we even use this system? It would take me pages and pages to explain all of that so I’ll leave it to you to go scurry over to Wikipedia or somewhere and find out for yourself.
So you have two, 120V lines coming in your house and they are 180 degrees out of phase with one another. Sort of. Kinda. And that’s important for, well, reasons, all right? And the two lines can be combined to give you 240V to power bigger appliances. Or not.
Are you confused yet? I am.
But let’s get back to my setup here. Each of the inverters will supply 1 of the two hot lines needed to get 240. And the two inverters “talk” to each other over a communications line so their sine waves are 180 degrees out of phase when in the split phase mode. Which is important for, well, for reasons. Or so they tell me. That’s what we’re stuck with.
But at the moment I don’t want to run any of my 240V appliances off this system. First of all that equipment sucks up huge amounts of power which would drain my batteries fast. The second issue is that my central air conditioning system quite possibly would require more amperage than my batteries can supply. EG4 recommends having at least 5 batteries in order to supply enough amperage to start up a big HVAC system like mine and I only have 3 at the moment.
To make a long story a bit shorter, I have two inverters because I’ll probably almost certainly need a system that can provide more load capacity than a single inverter would give me, and I eventually may want to expand the system to get 240V if I ever get enough batteries and solar panels up to support it.
But I’ve bored you long enough with this. let’s get on with it…
One of the things I ordered for this system was a battery cabinet to hold the batteries that has its own built in busbar system for connecting the batteries, and which is also lockable to keep people from fiddling with things they shouldn’t. That was on backorder and I got an email from Signature Solar telling me I could either wait, or they could ship me a slightly different model cabinet. Like everyone else they’re still having supply chain issues. I told them I’d take the different model and that should be here Monday. I jury rigged things together so I could test the inverters and charge the batteries but it can’t stay that way. Once the cabinet arrives I can get the batteries properly configured and start putting everything together.
I have more solar panels on order because my 800 watts of solar is woefully inadequate to keep 15 KWh of batteries charged. Those are supposed to be coming May 15 so I’ll need to build frames to hold all of those.
The weather hasn’t been very good but we’ve managed to get some work done out in the gardens. Once things warm up and the skies clear up we’re going to be really busy. We’re taking out a crumbling stone wall and replacing that, moving two of the raised beds to a new location and a bunch of other stuff going out there. MrsGF has had her indoor greenhouse going down in the basement for weeks already starting plants that will get transplanted outdoors as soon as the weather permits.
The brewery called me the other day, asking if I’d make more drinks coasters for them. A couple of good friends opened a brewpub, something they’d dreamed of doing for years. So they bought a building with an existing tavern that had enough room for them to put in their brewery and then… Then Covid hit. And somehow they still managed to pull it off and even managed to pay the bills during that whole mess. And now they’re doing pretty well.
Anyway a while back I found some super cheap plain drinks coasters made from wood and some from paperboard and for the heck of it I fired up Photoshop and made some graphics, putting their logo on one side and an allegedly humorous illustration on the other and then used the laser engraver to burn it into the coasters. i thought they looked a bit on the unprofessional side but they were fun to do so I did a few. I never thought they’d actually use them in the bar. But they did, and apparently the customers loved them. And stole them. Which was okay because it’s good PR for the brewery. So I’ve done dozens, maybe a couple of hundred of these things over the last couple of years and I just got a request for more so I got that going on. People are easily amused, I guess.
But enough of this. I need to get going here. I’ve probably put you to sleep already with all of this. I know I’ve nodded off a couple of times myself…
The weather here in NE Wisconsin was absolutely beautiful for a few days and I took advantage of that and got out on the bike for a while. But that’s changing fast. They’re now talking about a possibility of snow for us by next week. Sigh…
But that being said we have no right to complain. The fall weather has been pretty darned nice. We still haven’t had a hard freeze. We’ve had a few mornings when there was frost on the ground but not enough to really cause any damage. We still have flowers growing around the house and I have two jalapeno pepper plants that are still in flower for heaven’s sake.
Some of the flowers that have survived this fall so far are a bit surprising, like the alyssum. This little cluster of flowers popped up in the spring all by themselves, which surprised me a great deal. But I was very pleased to see them because I love those tiny little flowers, not just because they’re beautiful but because some types of alyssum are amazingly fragrant.
Getting out on the backroads and trails on the bike this fall has been great fun. I’m really going to miss being out there every day once winter hits. It’s been especially interesting out there because I’ve been seeing a lot of reptiles and amphibians out there, far more than usual. I’ve seen dozens of snakes, usually grass snakes and the like. We have two of those little beauties living in the backyard. Unfortunately they’re fast little buggers and my attempts to get them on camera haven’t been very successful. I’ve seen quite a few of them out in the wild as well. Unfortunately I’ve also seen quite a few of them flattened on the roads as well because some of them have a habit of sunning themselves on the roadway.
I’ve seen quite a few turtles out there too, including Fred, who is a regular sight down near the stone bridge that goes over the river.
Almost any sunny day I’d find Fred sunning himself on his favorite spot. He’s a cute little guy, maybe about six inches across with beautiful markings. I’ve managed to get about six or seven fairly decent photos of him.
Most of the migrating birds are gone now. I’ve seen a few cranes still hanging around but those will be gone soon. Ducks and geese are mostly gone. I’ve seen very few birds coming to the feeder in the yard as well. I haven’t had to refill in it some time now. But this time of year the seed eating birds are finding more than enough to eat out there in the wild.
Let’s see, what else? MrsGF and I are sketching out plans for major changes to the gardens now that those big trees are down. Now that the area back there is getting full sun it opens up a lot of options. We want to move two of the raised vegetable beds over to that area because they’re now getting shaded out by a fast growing maple where they are now. The area where the beds are now may become occupied by a garden shed because we need the storage space. We want to put a large decorative raised bed where the stump from the ash tree is located, one that matches the existing bed we have now that surrounds the little maple.
That’s not going to be a cheap project, though. If we do everything we’ve been thinking of it’s probably going to end up costing us in the neighborhood of $5K when it’s all said and done.
We’re still waiting for the garage door company to get the new doors in so they can replace the 30+ year old garage doors and openers. They’re in pretty rough shape and I don’t think they’ll last the winter.
Let’s wrap this up with a siamese cat because why not?
Meg, we’re not sure how old she is but she’s at least 16, maybe 17, and an absolute sweetheart. This foot rubbing thing is fairly new with her but I’m told it isn’t uncommon with kitties. She’s turned into quite the lap cat. If there is a lap anywhere in the house, she will find it and sit on it. She has this thing now where when she’s on my lap she likes to climb up on my chest and rub her face in my beard which is cute but that cat’s claws are like little razors and when she gets relaxed she starts doing this kneading thing it gets a bit interesting.
Oh, almost forgot, the new vacuum thingie. It’s a Shark self emptying robotic vacuum. Normally I wouldn’t have bought one of these but I got the dopey thing on some kind of sale on Amazon for less than half the normal retail price. It was marked down to $200 or so from $500, and I admit that it was sort of an impulse buy.
Now we had a robot vacuum before, one of the early Roomba machines, and it was utterly horrible in every single way. It was incredibly noisy. It couldn’t deal with even 1/4″ tall thresholds between rooms, couldn’t deal with, well, it couldn’t deal with anything, really. It fell down the basement stairs twice. It would just stop dead in its tracks for no apparent reason. And even worse it was damn near worthless at actually cleaning anything.
This one is actually surprisingly good. It maps the rooms as it cleans so it can develop a more efficient pattern of movement. It doesn’t just scurry around at random. It’s been able to negotiate even the rather steep threshold between the dining room and living room. It wanders back to its dock and recharges itself when it needs to and when the battery is topped off it picks up where it left off. And best of all it empties itself! The bin on the dock has to be dumped every couple of weeks or so but that’s no big deal. It hasn’t fallen down the basement stairs yet. And best of all it does a pretty darned nice job cleaning the floors.
I’m not quite sure what in the world it’s doing under the sofa, though. It seems to spend an inordinate amount of time under there when it’s cleaning. Since it has wifi I suspect it’s looking at porn while it’s under there.
Anyway we’ve had this thing for a couple of weeks now and we’ll see how it goes. So far we like it. Even the cat doesn’t mind it.
I hate moving to a new computer and try to avoid it as long as I possibly can, which is why my MacBook Pro up there on the left has been still limping along despite it being about 10 – 12 years old and having a wonky screen that sometimes made me open and close the lid a dozen times before it was readable. That Macbook gets used a lot. It lives in the kitchen where it’s used for emails, reading the news, looking up recipes, sorting photos and writing this blog. That it’s lasted this long is a bit of a miracle. My attempt to replace it with the iPad were very awkward. I could have done it but the iPad was just too clumsy, the software uncooperative with the way I liked to do things, and too limited in its capabilities. The iPad is great for must messing around, playing games, reading and things like that, but despite Apple’s efforts, it just isn’t a full blown computer. It’s basically an oversized iPhone without the phone.
I originally was not going to get another Macbook Pro. Don’t get me wrong, I love the things. I love the whole Apple “ecosystem”, as they call it. But Macbooks are expensive, and I wasn’t willing to spend $1,500 or more for one. But…
I’ve had really good luck with refurbished computers. I’ve bought several over the years for various reasons. You can often pick up a refurbed computer that’s only a few years old for a fraction of the original retail cost. And that’s what I did here, I picked up a three or four year old refurbished Macbook Pro for a third of the cost of a new one. And it’s pretty darned nice. It arrived in a plain cardboard box with nothing but the power supply/charger, which was fine too. And upon opening it, well, the thing looks like it is brand new except for a very small dent in the lid which doesn’t seem to hurt anything.
Biggest problem with adopting a new computer is moving all my stuff from the old computer to the new one. But Apple makes that easy too. Just connect the two laptops together with a USB cable, start up a migration assistant app, and a little over an hour later everything on the old computer was on the new one. I had to verify a few things like passwords and log in information, but that was about it. When it was all done the new computer looked and worked pretty much exactly like the old computer did, with a few minor differences because some of the apps I used were now newer versions.
There are two things I don’t like about the new one. The keyboard is without a doubt the worst laptop keyboard I’ve ever had to use. I’ve typed on everything from 1960s era IBM keypunch machines (seriously, I’ve had crank out those ancient punch cards to program computers once upon a time) to the original (and excellent) IBM PC keyboards, to a variety of cheap slush boxes, to the excellent mechanical keyboards made today, and everything else imaginable. And I’ve never seen a keyboard that was this bad before.
The other thing I don’t like is that this thing only has USB-C ports. One of the things I’ve always found irritating about Apple is that they often are obsessed with form over function. They get what they think is a good idea into their heads over there and run with it, and the hell with whatever anyone else thinks, wants and even needs. Now USB-C is, probably, a good thing. But millions of us out here are still using devices that require the original USB plugs. And a lot of us are photographers who need to transfer photos to computers with SD cards. And Apple has given me neither of those. Grr… So I’m going to have get a stupid adaptor to hook things up or read SD cards from my camera.
Movies: Warning, Thor Spoilers
I want to talk about movies for a while. I’m not a huge fan of the genre, to be honest. I hate going to theaters. My idea of a good time is not being sandwiched in between a bunch of people who haven’t bathed in three weeks, who are constantly checking their cell phones, munching on snacks they smuggled in, and talking all through the quiet parts of the dialog.
I also think that a lot of the most hyped movies out there are, frankly, crap. I hated the Lord of the Rings, but to be honest I thought the novels were even worse. Avatar? I couldn’t make it more than half an hour into that thing before I bailed out. And and my feelings include a lot of Marvel movies.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was just plain nasty. The only bright spot in the entire movie was Awkwafina, who plays Simu Liu’s sidekick. The whole movie was just one cliche after another. But perhaps I’m jaded because I watch a lot of Chinese television where they’ve been making much, much better martial arts style movies and television series for decades. I thought the editing was badly done. It looks like large bits of the movie were left on the cutting room floor.
The biggest problem is trying to take a complex story like this one and squeeze everything into a two hour block of time. Often story elements that are necessary to help the movie and the characters make sense are left out, and that’s what’s happened here. The characters are never given enough time to really develop well enough that I wanted to care about them. And I don’t like Simu Liu, to be honest. I’ve seen him in other things, including the Canadian series Kim’s Convenience where he was, frankly, more of a distraction and even an annoyance than a necessary part of the show. In the Ten Rings he just never seems, oh, comfortable in the role? It’s like he’s trying way, way too hard to adapt to a role he just isn’t suited for.
Basically if you want to see how a movie like this should be done, go find the Wu Assassins on Netflix.
I did, however, like the Eternals. I thought that was well done, despite the bad reviews it got.
But then we come to Thor: Love and Thunder. And oh dear lord… There is a phrase in the entertainment industry, jumping the shark, which refers to the writers and producers having totally run out of ideas for a series and introducing ever increasingly bizarre elements to the story to try to keep viewers interested. What they’ve done to Thor is even worse than jumping the shark. They brought in the kids. Children. They’ve Disneyfied the thing.
I knew the Thor series was eventually going to end up being wrecked, the whole story line I mean. Once you take a story arc that is about love and loss, death, mass murder and literally genocide, and try to make a comedy out of it, you are heading down a dark, dark path from which there is no return. And ultimately you end up with TLT. They’ve – they’ve Disneyfied it, heaven help us. They’ve completely run out of ideas and now are trying to turn it into a kiddie show.
They took the tragic story of Jane Foster and turned it into a five minute soap opera. They shoveled a bunch of kids into the story for “reasons”. And end up with Thor’s new partner becoming, drum roll please, an eight or nine year old girl. Yes, apparently Thor’s new partner in running around the universe slaying monsters, killing off bad guys, enduring horrible tortures, watching mass murder and genocide, is going to be a tiny little girl wielding a magic weapon? Seriously?
Some parts of the movie aren’t bad. The special effects are decent, there’s some snappy dialog. This could have been a fairly decent movie. But a lot of the jokes fall flat to the floor and lay there twitching waiting for someone to put them out of their misery. The only good part about the movie was the screaming goats. Maybe Marvel could spin off the screaming goats into their own series of movies?
It’s definitely fall up here in Wisconsin. Temperatures last night were down in the 30s. The days are much shorter. Most of the birds have fled for warmer climates. We cleaned all the vegetable gardens out the other day. Good thing, too, because MrsGF and I are sick of dealing with the stuff. Our pantry has enough canned beets and various types of tomato sauces and pickles to last us probably two years. The freezer is full to overflowing with more tomatoes, peppers, wax beans, green beans and beets.
There are still some wild flowering plants out there when I bundle up and head out on the bike, but not many. It’s still pretty green out there but I can see that this isn’t going to last long. The grasses and other plants in the more wild areas around here are starting to dry up and turn brown, and a lot of trees are starting to turn color.
We had to turn the heat on in the house days ago already as daytime temperatures struggled to hit 50 degrees even with the sun out.
I like autumn, even though it means I have to bundle up to get out on the bike and I usually get home with cold feet and even colder hands. Getting out in the crisp, autumn air is worth it. After the heat and humidity of the summer it feels refreshing, cleaner, out there.
Of course winter will be here before long, but that’s all part of the cycle of life.
With the number of outdoor chores and projects dwindling it means it’s just about time to open up the wood shop again. I haven’t even been in there except to grab a tool since spring. I still need to finish taking down the old suspended ceiling, replacing the old fluorescent ceiling lights with LED lights and doing a general cleanup before getting started with wood projects again.
I need to get my vertical antenna down and checked over before the snow flies. It got smacked by a tree limb in the spring and I think there’s a loose connection up there somewhere. I’ve been using the dipole antenna all summer, but I would like to get that vertical working properly again as well because the dipole is probably going to have to be replaced or at least taken down and have some repairs done as well in the near future.
And speaking of doing stuff, I need to shut this down for this time and actually go get some work done!
Technically it is still summer, but it’s the middle of September and it is sure starting to look and feel like autumn out there. I have to wear a jacket when I go out on the bike in the morning. Early morning temperatures are generally down in the mid-50s. Not bad, really, but chilly enough that it makes things a bit shivery without a bit of extra clothing. But then, this being Wisconsin, the next day we have to turn on the air conditioning by mid afternoon. When I was still working at the school district there were a lot of days when we had to run the aircon during the day and then fire up the boilers at night.
The growing season is over for some things here. We took out the butternut squash plants two days ago. Well, what was left of them. They’d been dying back for a couple of weeks now as they came to the natural end of their lives. But they left behind a massive amount of squash.
This is the second year we’ve had squash in the corner garden by the air conditioner, and the second year we’ve had a bumper crop. This area is amazingly prolific no matter what we plant in there, as long as we water it regularly. The corner faces south-west, so it gets direct sun almost every day. Plus the white siding of the house helps to concentrate the light and keep the temperature in that corner more moderated. We’ve also dumped a heck of a lot of compost in there as well over the years. We put parsley along the edge, a line of wax beans just inside there, and squash in the middle, and everything grew like crazy. We have enough beans to last us more than a year, and the squash…
A whole wheelbarrow full of the things. These will keep just fine for a while, at least until we have time to process them and get them into the freezer.
We pulled out the cucumber plants as well. We only put in two this year, but those were ridiculously prolific as well and we just didn’t know what to do with the cukes any more. We have enough pickles of various types on the shelves in the basement to last us probably two years.
We still have some beets and carrots left in the ground that need to get harvested and processed. Carrots will get blanched and frozen. The beets that ar eleft are really too small to do much with and will probably get eaten right away. Most of those are already either canned or in the freezer.
Some things are still going strong, though. My jalapeno plants were disappointing all summer long. i didn’t get more than a dozen fruits off them during the summer. But now the dopey things have decided to start to go crazy and they’re covered with flowers. Why? I have no idea.
We still have lots of flowers in bloom around here and some of them are pretty spectacular.
Let’s see, what else…
If you’ve been following this blog you know the big ash tree in the backyard came down earlier this summer. That area is finally cleaned out. I found a local fellow in Forest Junction who built his own sawmill and could use the massive log that was left. I didn’t get paid anything for it. Didn’t want to. I just wanted to see that log get used for something useful rather than end up rotting in an old gravel pit which is where it would have ended up. Depending on the quality of the wood once he starts sawing it, it could end up as molding and trim for local houses being built just a few blocks from here. Wouldn’t that be neat?
MrsGF and I still haven’t decided what to do with the area that the removal of the tree opened up. It was way too shady back there to grow much of anything. Now that the area is opened up to full sun we have a lot of options. We kept the stump intact and we’re thinking of doing something interesting with that. Ideas range from using it as the base for a garden bench to using it as a pedestal for a piece of artwork.
We should have new garage doors going in fairly soon. The existing doors, hardware and openers are over 30 years old and definitely showing their age. But as is all too common these days, supply chain issues are a bottleneck. The installer said we’re looking at a 2 to 6 week wait for all of the parts to come in.
That doesn’t really bother us, though. MrsGF and I are from a generation where we often had to wait for things. We didn’t grow up in this instant gratification society that seems to have developed over the years. To us the fact that you can order something online and have it arrive at your door within 48 hours or even less still seems a bit startling.
Speaking of businesses, I’ve had three different job offers in the last week alone, ranging from some recruiter who wanted me to do COBOL programming (I haven’t used COBOL since, oh, 1985 I think and I don’t remember how to do even the basics) to a local fellow who is a professional carpet cleaner who would have paid me embarrassingly large amounts of money for even a few hours of work per week, set my own schedule, work however long I wanted, etc. That’s how desperate people are for workers around here. Last night we went to a restaurant in the Fox Valley for our son’s birthday and they’re so short handed they don’t have wait staff at all any more. They’re somehow keeping open by just manning the kitchen and customers ordering at a counter, getting their own drinks, etc. We certainly didn’t have to worry about catching covid. We were the only people in the place.
Sidenote: One of Wisconsin’s more well known village idiots (cough, sorry, typo there) politicians came up with the perfect plan to solve the labor shortage. He wants to kill Social security dead and force all those lazy old people to go back to work. Of course now that he’s facing an election he has a good chance of losing he denies he said any such thing, but he did. And some of the things he’s said recently indicate he still thinks that way.
Enough of that, though. What else… Oh, I want to talk about drones in the near future. I got a new one which is pretty darned nice. I want to talk about bicycling in general. A lot of communities claim that they are “bike friendly” and they claim they would dearly love to shift people out of cars and onto bicycles. But they sure as hell don’t make it easy for people to do that. Now that the growing season is winding down I should have some time to start fiddling around in the wood shop again. I haven’t even been in there in the last few months. That all got shut down because of how busy we get during the spring and summer. I was in the process of taking down the ceiling in there to do some major remodeling and that’s been on hold way too long.
Let’s start out with heat. Yesterday it hit 95 here and today it’s supposed to be even hotter. The only thing we did outside yesterday was water the gardens in the evening. It was too hot to do much of anything except huddle around the air conditioner and today is going to be even worse. I know Wisconsin is known for things like ice fishing and snowmobiling, but we do get hot weather here, but only rarely does it get this hot. (Edit: I wrote the above at around 7 AM and it was already in the low 80s. It’s now late afternoon and my recording thermometer tells me we hit a high today of 101. Sheesh…)
Do I need to tell you that I am really, really glad I’m not farming any more when we get weather like this? Remembering what it was like to be out working in the fields or, even worse, milking cows in that crowded old barn, makes me shudder. I don’t know how the hell we managed to do it back then. We’d rush through milking as fast as we could and quickly get the cows down into the woods where there were springs with plenty of water and a lot of shade and it was much, much cooler. Of course today they can’t do that. The majority of cattle these days are crowded into feedlots and never see actual real grass or natural springs and streams in their entire lives.
I’ve been slowly working on cleaning up the mess that was left after they brought the trees down. That picture up there shows what I was left to deal with after they were done. And the picture below is what it looks like now.
As you can see considerable progress has been made in reducing the pile of wood. Considering I’m just one old guy with a chainsaw nibbling away at it when I get some time, I think I’ve made pretty good progress. There’s actually less now than what you see. Pretty much all that’s left out there is just the main trunk from the ash tree.
My neighbor came over with his little Oliver and hauled out three good sized logs that will hopefully go to a friend of his who has a small sawmill. The idea there is to slab them to eventually make table tops out of the slabs.
The gardens are looking good, but things are getting dry again. We’ve been watering all of the vegetable gardens almost on a daily basis, especially now that it’s got so hot and breezy. That hot wind really sucks the moisture out of the soil.
The carrots are looking absolutely amazing. We need to get in there and start thinning them out again so they have a chance to grow to a decent size. Why so many carrots? Well, why not? They’re tasty. The home grown varieties always seem to have much better flavor and are much sweeter than the ones we get in the store. And they’re easy to harvest, clean and freeze.
The beets are looking just as good. MrsGF and I both love beets. We like them roasted or made into harvard beets or just cooked up on a stove top with a bit of butter, salt and pepper.
And you can see that the onions to the right of the beets are looking good as well. We put in a lot of onions this year because I want to can pickled onions. We have a mix of white, yellow and red onions out there. And they’re delicious right now, young, tender, sweet but with a delightful spiciness to them.
We only put in three tomato plants this year because we still have a lot of tomato sauces on the shelves down in the basement. They’re looking pretty good and are just starting to blossom.
We put in pole beans again this year. We had good luck with them last year and they looking like they’re going to be just as good this year.
We also have some bush beans planted in the corner garden, along with some squash. The stuff does really well well but we really have to watch the moisture levels in the soil. This corner dries out very, very quickly. Those squash plants you see behind the line of beans will rather quickly grow and totally overwhelm that whole area if we don’t keep them trimmed back. It’s amazing how fast those squash vines grow once they get started.
We’re trying to plant pepper plants along the south side of the house this year. This is another area where we have to watch the moisture levels. that area dries out very quickly as well so they have to be watered every day as well. We were thinking of expanding this area out to about the end of the downspouts, more than tripling the size of the bed. We might do that this fall after the peppers are done.
Ooo, and I can’t forget the lily! They’re just starting to pop open and they look amazing!
Let’s see, what else…
We still haven’t really decided what we’re going to do in the area where the tree was. We’re still thinking of making a large decorative raised bed back there surrounded by stone or brick. It’s going to depend on how much work and money we want to sink into that area. We probably won’t do anything until at least this fall, maybe not until spring next year.
Woodworking projects are all on hold as I’m doing some major remodeling in the workshop. The 25 year old fluorescent lights, along with the entire ceiling, are coming down. Lights are going to be replaced with LEDs and I am not going to put another drop ceiling in there. The ceiling is pretty high in there and I’m thinking about building a lumber storage area up there. Right now my spare boards and things are sitting on pallets in the other part of the basement taking up a huge amount of floor space and it’s always in the way.
Let’s start off with chainsaws. I talked about the little DeWalt 20B Max SR 12 inch chainsaw back in March of last year when I first got it. It’s small, lightweight, and runs off the same battery packs my other DeWalt cordless tools use. It’s currently selling for around $240 on Amazon. Up until recently it’s been lightly used for cutting fallen branches, trimming small tree limbs, cutting up firewood to fit into the outdoor fire ring, etc. I like it. It’s light weight, well made, and basically it’s a tough little saw that does what it’s supposed to do. But when the trees came down in the backyard, I became even more impressed with the little saw. It works much, much better than I ever thought it would.
Battery life is impressive. Just look at that trailer load of wood up there. It cut up all of that on just one battery. And those aren’t little two inch branches, either. Those are ash and maple logs about 10 – 12 inches thick. The motor is surprisingly strong. It had no trouble at all dealing with 10 inch thick hard ash. It just kept going, and going, and going.
I am really impressed with that little saw. It does have its limits, of course. If I push it too hard it will over heat and shut itself down until it cools off, but that’s only happened to me twice, and both times I was really pushing the saw’s limits. Otherwise it’s been great. The only thing it needs other than electricity is standard chainsaw bar oil.
Anyway, if you’re looking for a small chainsaw to hack up fallen branches, trim trees and other light use, take a look at it.
While I’m talking about saws I have to mention the Husqvarna 440. That little saw has been working well beyond expectations as well. It’s a standard 2 stroke gasoline engine (requires gasoline mixed with oil). It’s done the vast majority of the work of dealing with the two trees. This is actually my son’s saw so it was already used when I got it from him. I had to replace the bar and chain and it was running a bit rough and he complained that it was hard to start. I’ve had no problems with it, though. It is a bit quirky to get started. When the engine is cold you have to follow the recommended starting procedure exactly. If you do that it’ll start right up. When it’s warm you don’t do anything except pull the starting cord. If you fiddle with the choke or throttle when it’s warm it isn’t going to start.
Side note: Husqvarna recommends you use their branded premixed gasoline in their saws. And at the time I bought the 440 they were claiming that if you promised to only use their premixed gas they would double the saw’s warranty. (Exactly how they’d know you’d used only their gas in the saw is something I don’t know.) The problem is that their branded gas sells for an eye watering $8 per quart. Per quart. That works out to $32 per gallon. Seriously? All it is is premium non-ethanol gasoline with a couple of ounces of oil and a preservative like Stabil mixed into it. That’s it. Let’s say premium non-ethanol gas is selling for $6 a gallon. You need to buy a premeasured little bottle of oil for $1, then a splash of Stabil if you feel you really need it. Total cost for a gallon of fuel if you mix it yourself is about $7 per gallon for exactly the same stuff Husqvarna wants to sell you for $32 a gallon.
Trees and Wood
So let’s talk about wood and trees for a minute. If you live in a town like I do and you have trees, eventually you will reach the point where one or more of your trees needs to come down for a variety of reasons. Getting a tree taken down by a professional tree removal service is not cheap and you may be tempted to do it yourself. Do I really need to tell you to very strongly resist that temptation? Just look up “tree fails” on YouTube sometime and you’ll see why. I’ve dropped a lot of trees in my lifetime but even I wouldn’t try to bring down a tree near buildings, gardens, sheds, garages, power lines, etc.
But one thing I always wondered is what happens to the wood when one of those tree services brings down a tree in a city or a town? A lot of these trees aren’t all that big, true, but some of them are massive, like the ash and maple that were taken down here a couple of weeks ago. Now wood is a valuable resource. As anyone who’s been doing remodeling or who builds furniture or does anything that requires wood these days can tell you, lumber prices have skyrocketed in the last two years. Prices have moderated somewhat but they’re still high. So I always figured that the wood from all those trees was being used for, well, something. Firewood if nothing else, but I was really hoping all those nice logs were going for something useful. But I was curious and did some digging and found out that more often than not, I was wrong.
The small limbs are fed into a chipper which shreds them up. That stuff I assumed was going for mulch or compost. Sometimes it is but generally, no, it isn’t. Landscapers don’t want the stuff for mulch because they want only wood chips. This stuff has lots and lots of leaves shreded up in it. Landscapers are also (with some justification) worried about plant diseases being spread. It can be composted, but that’s time consuming and often expensive to do, especially on a large scale. Sometimes it’s sent to a power plant that burns it as fuel. A lot of the time it just gets dumped somewhere where it rots, or it ends up in a landfill.
I thought that here in Wisconsin where a lot of people burn wood for heat a lot of the bigger limbs would be going for firewood. That doesn’t seem to be true either. The firewood market has a glut of wood right now because of all the ash trees coming done because of the emerald ash borer. They don’t want the stuff. The tree service guy talked to several, even offered to bring it to them for free. They don’t want it. Every individual I talked to who burns wood has more than they can use already. And Wisconsin has a regulation prohibiting the movement of firewood across county lines in an effort to the contain the emerald ash borer. A regulation that has done absolutely nothing to even slow down the movement of the ash borer in the state, I should add.
What about the logs then, the wood that could be turned into lumber for construction or furniture or whatever? The commercial sawmills around here won’t touch urban wood. And once I found out why I can’t say I blame them. The stuff that comes out of towns and cities is often full of metal – nails and screws from people attaching birdhouses or whatever to it, steel cables and even massive bolts that were used on the tree if it started to split, and things like that. They don’t want risk damaging their saws.
What about these guys you see on YouTube with portable sawmills who will come to you to cut up your old tree into lumber? Good luck trying to actually find one.
So what’s happening to my trees out back? I’m setting aside some pieces that might be useful for my lathe, but mostly they’re getting cut up for firewood and I’m stacking it up in the backyard as I get it cut. I have a couple of people who are interested in some of the bigger pieces to use for lumber but that’s not certain at the moment. I have one guy who says he’ll take the bigger logs, but I know for a fact he doesn’t have a way of getting them out of here to his facility. His equipment can only handle stuff weighing up to 1,500 lbs and I know for a fact that the one ash log weighs more than his loader does. I’ll get the bigger stuff cut up into more manageable sizes, roll it into an out of the way spot in the backyard and see what happens. If none of these guys get here to deal with it, it’ll get cut up too. I know enough people who burn wood for heat that I’ll get rid of it eventually.
Aspen Tree Service from Chilton was here Thursday and Friday of last week to take down the ash and maple trees out back. The ash tree he’s working on in the photo looks fairly healthy but it wasn’t. About a quarter of the branches he’s taking out up there were already dead or dying. He found evidence of a fungus infestation up there as well as some rot starting in the crotches where the main branches attached to the trunk. The maple tree was in even worse condition.
I’ve dropped a lot of trees in my life but there is no way I would try to bring down two full size trees near buildings and decorative landscape features like these two are. In cases like this I let the professionals who have the equipment and experience deal with these situations. These guys are good. They’ve been in the business for years and know what they’re doing.
And down comes the ash. That tree was pretty massive. All of us underestimated just how big the thing was. The main trunk ended up being almost 36 inches thick. The maple was smaller, about 28 inches thick at the base.
Normally when these guys get done with a job you can hardly even tell there used to be a tree there. They clean up everything, haul it all away, take out the stump, repair any grass that was damaged, seed bare ground, etc. But I complicated things for them because I wanted to keep the wood, or most of it. They chipped the brush and hauled it off but I got everything else. And now I have a massive pile of wood to deal with.
Why would I keep all that stuff? I hate to see anything go to waste, especially trees. I love trees, but I know that eventually all trees die and have to be taken down and I’d like to see them used for something useful rather than ending up being chipped for mulch. Even going for firewood would be better than having them just dumped somewhere and left to rot. We have friends and family members who use wood for heat so a lot of the smaller stuff might go to them.
We’re contacting a couple of local guys who have small sawmills to see if they can use anything in that pile up there to make some usable lumber. The problem with urban trees is that the big lumber companies don’t want to deal with them. Running their equipment into a town just to pick up one or two logs isn’t cost effective for them. Plus the logs are often too short for them to get commercial sized lumber out of them. They want logs that are over 8 feet long and most tree services cut them up much smaller than that to make them easier to remove. And the firewood dealers around here don’t want to deal with 36 inch thick logs, either. It’s too big for their equipment to handle. So as often as not those logs end up being dumped in an old gravel pit somewhere and just rotting away.
I want to keep a lot of the wood myself. I’m going to make bowl blanks out of as much of the wood as I can for future projects. Ash and maple are both great woods for making wood turnings. I figure I’ll end up with enough material to keep me busy for the rest of my life.
There’s a stump in there too, somewhere. We’re going to keep that too. That’s going to become some kind of centerpiece for a decorative feature we’ll be putting in back there. We’re kind of tossing around ideas for how to deal with it. Right now we’re leaning towards the idea of using the stump as a base for a bench in the center of a decorative garden. We’ll see how that goes once we get the mess cleaned up back there.
On The Silly Side…
On the silly side of things I’m making allegedly humorous “artwork” for a brewpub down in Milwaukee and then using one of the lasers to engrave it on stuff for them. Drinks coasters seem really popular. People just sort of start giggling over these things when they find them under their glasses at the bar. I either draw the images myself or, as is the case with the one on the left, I find public domain images and add suitable captions. Hopefully people steal them and take them home. They’re cheap to make and if people pass ’em around it’s good PR for the pub.