Ok. So now I have three different podcasts here as part of the A Fine Dram media empire. Here are the details and links to the website, the RSS feed, and the Overcast app feed for each…
A couple of weeks ago Erin, Beatrix, and I went on a New England/Canada cruise with my parents. I have finally readjusted to real life enough to get some pictures posted...
We left out of Baltimore and went up the day before so we had a little bit of extra time to kill. The nerd in me couldn't resist going to the National Electronics Museum, which was just down the street from the hotel. Their main focus is on communications and military electronics. They have a lot of great stuff in there and quite a few hands-on displays for kids. It is well worth the $5 admission.
My favorites were the Enigma machine and the Norden bombsight. I had never seen either in person before.
We sailed on the Grandeur of the Seas. She's nice but she is definitely starting to show her age. We heard from an officer later in the cruise that she has had her last refit as a Royal Caribbean ship. In the next couple of years she will probably be sold to another cruise line.
On the way out of Baltimore we saw Fort McHenry and I tried to get a photo of the NS Savannah. The Savannah was the first nuclear powered merchant ship. Now she's basically a museum ship (that's closed to the public) just waiting for the government to allocate the funds to decomission her nuclear reactor.
After a day at sea our first port of call was Boston. I was determined to go to the Paul Revere house because last time I was in Boston Brandon and Pat wouldn't let me go.
Well... Brandon and Pat were kind of vindicated. It was a comedy of errors even getting to it and getting in and there isn't really much to it once you do get in. I like this photo, though:
Then Erin, Beatrix, and I went to some base ball park...
We went to Portland, Maine, which is nice and I destroyed this lobster.
Then we went to Bar Harbor, which was even nicer, and Dad destroyed this piece of blueberry pie.
While Mom and Dad and I were stuffing our faces with seafood and pie, Erin and Beatrix went out on a lobster boat to see how lobstering is done. Bea made a friend but she had to put him back in the ocean.
Our first stop in Canada was in Saint John, New Brunswick. We just did the most Canadian thing we could think of.
It was a great trip. I took too few photos, and probably should have taken my real camera with me. The iPhone camera did a good job but it can only do so much.
Cool things I saw but didn't get photos of: the Saint John City Market, many dolphins and whales in the Atlantic, crossing over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel at night on the way back, the Ames Mansion, the Harvard Bridge.
A while back I retweeted a Vintage Space video about Apollo 8, mentioning that it is my favorite of the NASA Apollo missions.
Here are some of the reasons why it's my favorite...
First and foremost, it was the first time a manned mission left Earth orbit and went into translunar space. The three men of Apollo 8, Jim Lovell, Frank Borman, and William Anders were the first to point their spacecraft away from Earth and truly go out into space. And they were relying on the Moon's gravity to capture them and keep the spacecraft from sailing out into deep space with no hope of return. Imagine knowing that you're going to do that, relying on engineers and 1960s-era computing power to get everything right. One mistake, one missed digit in the guidance computer and you sail past the Moon and into certain death. And these three men got on top of that rocket and did it.
In the process they became the first humans to leave Earth orbit, the first to orbit the Moon, the first to see the far side of the Moon (there is no dark side, that's not how orbits work), the first to see – and photograph – the Earthrise from the Moon, and, thankfully, the first to return from the Moon.
Second, the flight patch for Apollo 8 is perfect. It’s an eight looping around the Earth and the Moon in a simplified version of their flight plan. Jim Lovell sketched the insignia during a training flight and a Houston-area artist finalized it. It is one of those rare designs that seems so simple and yet so meaningful.
They saved Christmas!
You can see the Apollo 8 capsule in the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. That is definitely on my must-see list.
I honestly didn't think I would be doing any significant projects in the shop/garage this soon. I finished up the Xmas projects and found a home for the new drill press and thought my next project would be the workbench I'm planning on building this Spring. But...
The other night, as we were engrossed in The Hobbit before bedtime we heard a huge crash. I went to investigate and found my plywood rack had given up and everything had come crashing down. Admittedly, it was a terrible design, poorly built, and overloaded. I should have known better. Thankfully everything fell straight down between the wall and Erin's car so nothing important was damaged.
Clearly a new design was in order. I found a good one on The Wood Whisperer that I could easily modify to work with the existing French cleat. The plans are available for free there on his site.
I ended up cutting most of the parts with my favorite hand saw because most were too long for the band saw and I don't like using the circular saw if I can avoid it – too much dust and noise.
I assembled it all together with regular Titebond and screws. You can sort of see from the pics above that it's basically a t-joint and an i-beam attached together. It is overkill for the amount of weight they will be holding – especially since the weight is distributed over three of them and the cleat is screwed into three studs with decking screws – but overengineering is exactly what prevents the failure I had with the last one.
Now that it's after Christmas and all of my gifts have been given out I can finally post some pics of what I've been working on.
The main project, and the one that was actually the easiest, was a longboard for Beatrix. It's cut out of a piece of 3/4 inch baltic birch. I basically just found a template online, printed it and stuck it to the board, and did a rough cut with the band saw. Then I sanded it to final dimension and rounded the edges on the router table. After that it was just finish sanding and painting. And then installing the trucks and wheels and applying some grip tape.
Beatrix has already tested the board in the neighborhood and gotten it scratched up, which is pretty awesome in my book.
The rest of the projects were small in scale but a lot more complicated than the skateboard.
I glued together layers of walnut and cherry and cut them into some bandsaw boxes. The more rectangular one – on the right in the photo – was for Erin and it was way easier to cut and sand than the others. The owls, one for Bea and one for my mother-in-law, were moderately difficult to cut and sand. The elephant, for my mom, was a nightmare all around. All of those tight curves made everything so much more difficult. After the boxes were cut out, and the drawers cut out and glued up (and small cherry pulls glued on), I sanded them all to 400 grit and applied danish oil to bring out the grain. For a first attempt they're ok but I can see every single flaw and mistake in them. At the very least I learned a lot about the process.
The other two items are razor stands. The one on the left is make out of teak and it was for my brother, Randy. The other one is made of wenge and I gave it to my dad. For those I used veneer rather than regular wood stock and glued the layers together to get the thickness and, for the upper part, the curve I wanted. Parchment paper was my best friend for that. After glueing up the layers I applied templates, cut them out, sanded to final dimension and then – learning from the bandsaw boxes – did my finish sanding before glueing the pieces of the stands together. Then it was a pretty simple matter of glueing the stands to the bases and finishing with some touch up sanding and a couple of coats of spray laquer.
These projects took me a ton of time to complete because I don't really have a proper workspace. I'm going to take care of that soon, though, because my next big project is a workbench and tool storage in my garage.