Ferrous Thoughts

I spent an awful lot of time as a child and teenager tinkering with various projects. I’d have lots of projects on at any one time, brewing in my head for a while, and making their way to notebooks and scraps of soldering iron, meter, …paper, then to elaborate drawings showing the technical details, and ultimately to some sort of realization in the real work, some percentage of the time. In the Summer time, I would probably have one Big Project and that would occupy my thoughts for a great deal of time, and would involve a lot of hiding away doing things. Lots of these projects would involve electronics (increasingly as time went by and I Learned more and my various part time jobs could support more) and there’d be lots of tinkering with all sorts of items, and a constant feature would be the soldering iron, one not so different from the one that you see to the right.

Well, one of the many things I liked about the Iron Man movie (yes, I was right there to […] Click to continue reading this post

Bookcases

While the wonderful downpour carries on outside (the whole of Southern California is in the grips of a powerful storm), I’ll continue with the discussion of the re-invigoration of the study that I started a short while ago

study project - plane
(One of my all-time favourite wood-working tools. The good old-fashioned plane. Planing a bit of wood is jolly good therapy too.)

One of the main things I envisioned, and put into my sketches, was lots of space for books. Lots. I wanted big bookcases that fit the room, and so I planned a simple but robust design that stretched them eight feet from the floor to the ceiling. Of course, I wanted to make them myself – Building them myself would be more fun and much […] Click to continue reading this post

In Which I Fail Physics 101…

… but pass it on a retake!

While quickly building an ad hoc washing line pulley assembly from a bag of hooks, eyes, and pulleys, and a 2×4, I put this together at first (blotted out some background for privacy of myself and neighbours – click for larger view):

bad design

Huh. Does not want to hang level. Why? A tenth of a second after the thought, I burst out laughing loudly at my error. Ironic since I love teaching about pulleys in basic physics, and for some reason students are scared of pulleys. (Not as scared as they are of torque (why?), but scared nonetheless. I try to help them overcome those fears.) I made an obvious mistake. (Do you see it?)
[…] Click to continue reading this post

A Retreat

sketches for studyAs I get older and busier, I seem to increasingly value quiet spaces. I always loved them, but now they seem more vital to me than ever. So I seek them out constantly. It’s important to note that it is, as they say, all relative. My whole house is a quiet space in a quiet part of a neighbourhood, which is itself in a relatively quiet part of the city. Nevertheless, I’ve been monitoring my working patterns of late and noticed quite a bit of fragmentation, which bothers me a lot. Sure, a lot of it is self-inflicted (email, blogging, and so forth can always be managed better – that’s another issue to discuss), but some of it has to do with finding good spaces to work, depending upon the type of mood and type of work to hand.

I’ve lots of favourites, and many of them are cafes and bars around the city, some places on campus (my office is not high on that list though), the odd bench in a park here and there, and so forth. But those are mostly for working in my “public space” mode. Sometimes I want to work in a different mode, or sometimes I want to just stay […] Click to continue reading this post

Bench

Surprisingly satisfying sound to it, that word… Bench.

Feeling a bit off the tracks, internally, in one way or another and so I’ve decided to opt out of Thanksgiving this year and spend some time hiding out on my own. Consequently, there’ll be no cooking post, I’m afraid. I’ll have to refer you to last year’s. However, there are other arenas of derring-do besides the kitchen. Today, Asymptotia goes down to the workshop…

I’ll probably be drummed out of the Theorists’ Guild for admitting this, but I can’t go for long without making or doing something constructive with my own hands. The mood to make something hit me hard the other day. Not long ago I began to eye various aspects of my office (at home) and try to understand why I only use it to pick up printouts, find a book on a shelf, and add to the giant piles of paper on every surface. I never sit in it and use it, and I did not know why, annoyingly enough. Well, I think I figured it out, and after making a series of investigations, and a series of detailed measurements, the solution is on order. I will report later. The solution (and some other projects I have in mind) will require some careful woodwork, and I’ve not really got a good working space for that, having mostly done all my woodworking on the ground, patio, steps, and other improvised places.

So today’s project was to fix this. The plan began with a spontaneous purchase (for […] Click to continue reading this post