Tuesday, January 31, 2006


I've never been to a stock car race, never listened to a race on radio, and only watch short segments of races on TV. I have no desire to attend a race. However, I did tour Daytona Speedway last summer while visiting a cousin in Deland. We road an open bus around the infield, saw the winner's circle, and road on sections of the track. There were short lines of people and a small fee to take this tour. The information and tour was very interesting.

In an effort to get a better appreciation of this sport, I read Sharyn McCrumb's 2005 book titled "St. Dale". This novel is about NASCAR, the tracks, the circuit, the drivers and the fans. The emphasis was on the big names like Petty, Gordon, Elliot, Martin, Bodine, Childress, Johnson and many others. The real big name is Dale Earnhardt and how his fan following raised him to a level of "secular sainthood".

I still cannot get turned on by motor sports. I remember when I was a teenager in the early 1960's. Boys and men would gather around a raised hood and admire the carburetor with the polished dome. They would call them three-twos or four-twos or something like that. I didn't understand carburetors then and I still don't.

Have a good day!

Monday, January 30, 2006


I recently read an interesting quip about roosters. It goes like this:

" Every morning a rooster crows, and then the sun comes up.
That rooster thinks he made it happen."

Can't you just visualize roosters strutting around barnyards with their chest out thinking how important they are. All the hens in the barnyard know better, but allow him to feel good about himself.

I have known some people who behave like a rooster.

I must get ready to sawmill logs. You have a good day!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Expensive Toys for a Man

I have an unusual hobby: sawmilling. It requires lots of muscle if I don't have the proper technology. I prefer to have good tools to make the job easy.

Have a good day!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

More on Technology

I know a man in Chapel Hill who runs for fun, exercise, exhileration, and for keeping in shape for competitive meets. When he runs, he wears a GPS unit on his wrist like most of us wear a watch. This device connects to orbiting satellites that track his movement, speed, and direction. After running, the GPS wrist device is connected to his computer where the data is transmitted into a software program that creates a tracking plot. This plot is then superimposed onto a Google Earth photograph of the location where he ran. If you click on the below link and scroll down the page quickly, you will see the map of one run taking place. Follow the trails, see the stadium and Chapel Hill streets and roads. The screen also displays relevant statistics about the run performance like total distance and average speed.

See him run

There is more interesting stuff on his Blog site which is http://dave.runningland.com

Have a good day!

Friday, January 27, 2006

More on Technology

Several years ago my wife and children gave me a personal weather station for my birthday. It is an electronic station by Oregon Scientific that measures temperature, barometric pressure, wind speed, and rainfall rate. I tastefully attached this instrumentation to my chimney top and house roof eaves, strung the wires through the attic, ceiling, wall, and connected then into my computer.
Every 15 seconds data is feed to my computer from the sensors. The computer tabulates this weather data and transmits the results to a host computer on the Internet every 15 minutes. Anyone with a computer and Internet service can visit that site and see this weather history at my house here in Seward of the Pfafftown community. The data is displayed in graphic form as well as tabular. The graphs of data are displayed daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly with a click of the mouse. Another click or two will show this data for any date you choose. When I traveled to other countries, I used the hotel business center computers and checked the temperature at my house. You may want to check it now from your location by clicking the link below.

My weather station

What do you think?

Do any of you watch the television series "24"? Have you noticed how unusual Jack Bauer's voice sounds? Especially when he speaks face-to-face with someone and nobody else should be listening. I've never heard voice sounds this way before. It sounds like there's not enough air passing from his lungs through his mouth to make sound. Somebody describe this sound to me.

Have a good day. I need to get ready to sub.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

More on Technology

Yesterday, my daughter boarded a plane and flew to Detroit and then on to Seattle. This flight was the start of what is to become a permanent relocation to that city. She will begin working for a large corporation there, Microsoft. Her husband will follow in a couple weeks after he leaves his job and closes the sale on their house in Cary.

It would be very easy for me to be sad over this long distance move away from our home area. I came to terms with this by reflecting on my wife's parents when they moved from the "North" to the "South" in the 1950's. I'm sure their families and friends around Brooklyn felt angst when they departed. I look at how the lives of my in-laws unfolded and eventually encompassed me through marriage to their daughter. My life has been wonderful as a result. A similar unfolding of a wonderful life is in their future.

Anyway, I will return to technology. I was given a video camera which is now mounted on the top edge of my computer monitor. It's a tiny device made by Logitech. The software is loaded into my desktop computer. When I turn it on, my face and the den behind me is in view on the monitor. Several people could be in this video if they gathered around. My daughter will have the same type video camera on her computer and we will be able to talk and see each other on our monitors through Internet connection. It has been pointed out to me that, now, we will need to comb our hair and dress up to talk with our daughter. Oh well, this high-tech gadgetry has a downside.

I must get ready to "sub" for a sick teacher in a local high school. You have a good day!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


The Internet and email are not new and probably everyone reading this has both. I begin every day with an hour on the Internet non-stop except to pour two cups of coffee. I spend about two minutes visiting a site to see digital images taken by amateur photographers from around the world. These photos are only one or two days old and involve nature shots like sunrise, sunset, rainbows, snowfall, birds, storms, bridge over valley, etc. For example, yesterday I saw:

Cape Merares, OR - lighthouse

Turkey - snow capped mountains from airplane

Jamtland, Sweden - snowfall

Auckland, New Zealand - I forget the scene there

Bergamo, Italy - iced sunset

Klooga Beach, Estonia - beach scene, early morning or evening

Bryson City, NC - train track along beautiful countryside

These beautiful, high-resolution, digital images give me a current view of the world where weather and nature may be different from my area. It allows me to start the day with a global view. It expands the universe of my mind.

You may want to visit this site at: http://www.wunderground.com/wximage/viewimages.html

You might want to bookmark this site and visit it often. There are around 400 photos uploaded daily. Check out a sampling of them. Click on the thumb-nail pictures to enlarge. See photo and read about the photographer.

Have a good day!

I Love Technology!

I love technology! Over the past twenty-five years I have spent tens of thousands of dollars on computers, LCD TV, digital projector, digital camera, GPS, BlackBerry, iPod, weather station, PDAs, and printers. I don't begrudge any of that spending. Each new device or computer upgrade has meant learning how to use the features to get the benefits. Some people question such purchases by saying the technology is changing so fast that whatever you purchase today will be obsolete next year. I suggest that statement is only partially true. I agree that next year the technology will be enhanced. If one doesn't get onboard with computing and electronic devices, then, that person may discover one day that one's self may be obsolete. You can love technology and attempt to keep up or you can let the world move forward as you hold on to pencil and paper.

During the coming days, I'm going to write and show how high-tech instrumentation has enhanced my universe. Sure, I could live without it. It's not absolutely essential. But, it sure is fun, informative, entertaining, and exciting to me.

Come back in the days ahead!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Saint Ralph

We watched a great movie last weekend about a teenage boy on a quest to perform a miracle to save his mother. His mother was in a prolonged coma and not expected to live. Ralph was in a Catholic School and wanted desperately to save his mother. The miracle to save her involved him getting prepared to run in the Boston Marathon and winning the race there. He faced obstacles in every direction he turned and got little support from fellow students, teachers, and school administrators. His charm and perseverance carried him beyond the roadblocks.

If you are like me, the movie will make you chuckle and laugh, tear-up, and cheer this young boy.
I could see a some part of me in every character in the movie. Some of the attitudes and mind-sets I indentified with in some characters did not make me feel proud. So, perhaps I should be more sensitive and temper my outlook in those areas and personally grow.

The movie is available on DVD and is rated PG-13. Thanks, Joan, for the recommendation.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Bed & Matching Nightstand

A few days ago I wrote and showed pictures about the process of sawmilling lumber from a log. The log happened to be wild cherry and I ended the piece by showing the freshly sawed stack of lumber. The lumber should air-dry in the stack for about one year. Then, the material can be worked into a finished product like the bed above. This is a cherry bed I built by following a plan in a woodworking magazine. (Woodsmith Vol. 108 December 1996) The plan is called Classic Cherry Bed and it shows dimensions for three sizes. The one above is full-size. I have built four beds using this plan. One using cherry lumber, one using red oak, and two from walnut. This style bed is stout, sturdy, and will not move when you turn over or move about in the bed. I like that steadfastness.

There is great satisfaction when one starts with a raw material, then, through hand and machine work, creates a finished and useful product. People who cook do it every day. A seamstress
understands this feeling when they take cloth and make something, artists, potters, machinist, carpenters, and hundreds of others get this satisfaction every day. It means more when you didn't acquire it at Walmart or Sears.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Old Hickory

I just read two books that hightened my awareness of the Scots-Irish culture and the impact they've had on the history of our country. The two books are:

Ghost Riders by Sharyn McCrumb and Born Fighting by James Webb

At least twelve U. S. Presidents were from Scots-Irish heritage and scores upon scores of other famous people in the military, business, entertainment, and government were and are from this background. The Appalachia Mountains were settled largely by immigrants from Scotland and Ireland. During the Civil War, I learned, that this culture in the mountains of N. C. fought and killed among themselves because some were fighting for the Confederacy while some fought for the Union. Zebulon Vance, the 31 year old governor of N. C. during that war was from near Asheville. He struggled in Raleigh with politics of the time and worked to keep supply lines balanced between Confederacy and the fighting factions in the mountains.

The one amazing figure from this culture to me was Andrew Jackson. His entire family of parents and siblings were dead when he was only 14. He was a war veteran as a teenager, became a lawyer and admitted the the N. C. Bar at an early age, he became a General and led many battles, dueled adversaries and carried a bullet next to his heart for the rest of his life,
was elected U. S. President only to have his wife die suddenly from a heart attack from the cruel criticism of her during the campaign. He then went on the be one of the most popular presidents and vetoed monopolistic banking legislation that is viewed by experts to be the most important veto in U. S. history.

Sometime when you're in the area of Nashville, TN, visit "The Hermitage" the homeplace of "Old Hickory", former president and Scots-Irish decendent, Andrew Jackson. I've been there and enjoyed the tour, but didn't appreciate the man then as much as I do now.


Friday, January 20, 2006

Wild Cherry

Occasionally I'll come across large Wild Cherry logs. They usually come from land that is being cleared for housing development. Such is the case in the pictures above that were taken in 2003. In the left picture the log is on the mill and has been cut down to a square shape which is called a "cant". The boards in the center picture were sawed from the log to get down to the cant. These boards are awaiting to get the bark removed on each side. That removal is called "edging". This edging will be accomplished on the same milling machine after the cant is sawed and taken off the machine. The cant can be sawed in any desired thickness and all the boards from the cant will be the same width if the cant isn't turned during the sawing from top to bottom. The thickness scale I used here is called 4/4 (four quarters). You may ask if 4/4 is not the same as 1 inch. In saw milling a scale is used taking into account the thickness of the saw blade. This is referred to as "kerf". The kerf results in saw dust and the wider the kerf, the more waste from the log. Anyway, the scale is adjusted to consider the kerf and results in a boards that are 1" thick as they come from the log. When the boards dry, they will shrink to 7/8" or perhaps 15/16" depending on species and the precision of saw milling. There are other dimensions of thickness on this same scale, 5/4, 6/4, 8/4, 10/4, 12/4. Same theory, consider the kerf.

The picture on the right is the stacked lumber from this exceptional cherry log. It is stacked with one inch square "stickers" between each layer to enable drying slowly. This drying outdoors takes about a year to get the moisture content down to 10-12%.

Another day, I'll show resulting furniture that can be made from matrial like this cherry lumber.


Thursday, January 19, 2006

When was WW I Given Its Name?

a. 1916

b. 1918

c. 1921

d. After the start of WW II

Scroll down for answer

d. Is the correct answer. Before then, that war was referred to as the great war.

I'm well into my 12th luster and I didn't know that until recently. I don't remember ever thinking about it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

My Wife Recently Said To Me .....

....that everyday with me is like Valentine's Day. Wow! She really made me feel good because I believe her. I have lived with her so many years that I know when she says something she is not making it up.

I then went on to think how really smart my wife is. She knows how to bring out the best in me and keep the bar raised high. It makes me think of Johnny Cash and his song "I Walk The Line".

"I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I keep my eyes wide open all the time
I keep the ends out for the tie that binds
Because you're mine, I walk the line

I find it very, very easy to be true
I find myself alone when each day is through
Yes, I'll admit that I'm a fool for you
Because you're mine, I walk the line"


My wife is amazing!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

When Was The Last Time I Donated Blood?

When was the last time I donated blood? That question entered my mind yesterday as I read Arthur C. Brooks', professor at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Public Affairs, column on the Opinion page of the Wall Street Journal. (1/16/06) The column is titled "Bleeding Hearts" and the piece examined this question: "Do one's views on the uses of government money accurately reflect anyone's true level of compassion?" This question relates to how much the government puts in the annual budget to spend on social programs and the helping of the poor. Mr. Brooks points out two groups in our population. One group criticizes the administration for not putting enough in the budget to improve the living standards of the poor. People in this group are viewed as "compassionate". A second group among us are people who say there is enough in the budget and that people should take care of themselves. This group is viewed as "uncompassionate". He then goes on to present authoritative survey results that compare the "private giving behaviors" of the two groups. As you probably have guessed by now, the uncompassionate group gives more money to charity privately than the compassionate group. Not only does this pattern of giving apply to money giving, it holds true for donating of blood. Mr. Brooks points out that all of us have about the same amount of blood, we can't give it to a church, and donating it isn't tax deductible. Furthermore, blood donated benefits anonymous recipients, including the poorest among us as well as victims of disasters. In other words, blood donation should be a good indicator of compassion giving.

So, when was the last time I donated blood? Last Spring ('05) , I presented myself for blood donation to the Red Cross. They declined to accept it that time because I had recently traveled to certain countries in Central America. Thanks to the column I have been reminded to inquire with the Red Cross if enough time has now elapsed for them to once again accept my blood.

Mr. Brooks is currently writing a book on American charity, to be published later this year by Basic Books.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Quartersawn White Oak

A few days ago I reported on sawmilling a large oak log. The log was ten feet long and thirty-three inches in diameter. I estimate it weighed around three thousand pounds. I sawed this log using a technique called quarter-sawing. Simply stated, this is a method of ripping the log in fourths. Imagine looking at the end of a round log and drawing a cross-hairs. Then imagine a saw blade cutting from one end to the other starting at the cross-hairs. You would then have four pie shaped pieces of log. Then you saw each piece individually by cutting a one-inch board off the flat side alternating sides after each cut. This method of sawing causes the growth rings of the tree to be perpendicular to the flat sides of the boards. This produces a beautiful surface and yields flashes or tiger stripe patterns as you often see in antique furniture.

Today I stacked the lumber to begin a year of air-drying. See pictures.


Sunday, January 15, 2006

When You Depart This World, Leave It Cleaner Than You Found It.

When you depart this world, leave it cleaner than you found it. This concept is a lesson I presented to high school classes in which I subbed in Life Management Skills. After executing the regular teacher's lesson plan, I used some of the remaining time with the students to express this concept. I explained it to them this way: Suppose you and your family go to a park on a picnic. You take a picnic basket of fried chicken, chips, sodas, paper products and plastic utensils. You also take a watermelon or cantaloupe. You have great family fun. You eat, throw Frisbee and enjoy the time together. As you get ready to leave, you clean up all the trash and properly dispose into trash cans the paper and plastic products as well as the watermelon rinds. You leave the space clean. As you walk to your car, you notice a soda can or plastic bag along the trail. You did not bring that material into the park or place it there, but you reach down and pick it up and deposit it in a trash can. If you do this, then it can be said that you left that park cleaner than you found it. Now apply that same conduct in all aspects of living your life. Start here in this classroom and around the school campus. Do this in your room at home and around your house. If you go through life maintaining control of all materials and properly disposing of waste products YOU create and then clean some trash of others along the way, then it can be said that you left this world cleaner than you found it. If you practice this concept, it will make you feel good inside and it will influence others to embrace this notion. When each of us practice this discipline, then our environment and living space will get cleaner.

The classes' general response was Yeah, Okay, Whatever.

Some responded with "disease"! I'm not touching that trash and used condoms.
I admit, I had not thought about that type of trash.

This lesson and discussion took about eight minutes to express and react to their comments.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Millennial Generation

I finished a book last week that left me in stunned silence. The book is about the millennial generation and their faith when placed into a religious neutral organization and then sent on high risk assignments. This generation includes young people who reached maturity around the turn of the century. The focus of the book is on this twenty to twenty-five year age group who are serving in the U. S. Military in Iraq. It compares them to previous generations in our country and shows how the lack of faith in the current "warrior code" along with the absence of great speeches from leadership, and the restrained role of the military chaplains go a long way in explaining the behavior at Abu Graib. The book is "The Faith of the American Soldier" by Stephen Mansfield, 2005. Although the book deals with military persons of the millennial generation, I believe the lesson is applicable to all in this age group. I urge you to read this book at your earliest convenience.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

This is day one of creating this Blog. My son has urged me for months to start one and I've finally taken the first step. I suppose I'll use this space for a variety of purposes, like reports on some daily activities, comment on significant news, express opinions about movies or books.

Today I sawed into lumber a 33" diameter White Oak log that was 10' in length. The log was removed from a back lawn of a home after a recent ice storm uprooted this mature tree. The home owner searched for someone like me who would convert the trunk into lumber for possible use in building furniture or some other useful purpose. The home owner didn't like the idea of this tree being used as firewood or hauled to a landfill. Since the tree came from near a home, commercial mills are reluctant to saw these trees due to the risk of metal below the bark and damage to their machinery.
I encountered no metal when I sawed this log. (lucky) I quarter sawed this log and it yielded 280 board feet that can be used to build nice furniture when the boards are cured.