Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday Flora--Do You Feel Lucky, Punk?

A five-leaf clover, courtesy of L, photo courtesy of the Real Doctor.  Extra lucky.

(Apparently, Occidentals are not the only ones to think that developmental anomalies in plants somehow portend good fortune.  Rare double heads of rice were treasured as harbingers of good fortune by the imperial Chinese (e.g., with an interesting back-story).  This makes a little more sense than the clover--with the rice, at least your bowl will be twice as full, but a superfoliar clover gets you nothing more than an incrementally more contented goat.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

For crossword puzzle and scrabble fans

Q:  what do the following have in common?

A:  they are all astroblemes.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tuesday Tool: Screwy

The last Tuesday Tool was kind of old-fashioned; today's is ancient and at the same time totally high-tech.  It's the TEKS Wood-to-Metal self-drilling, self-tapping screw.

So here's the problem: I wanted to attach a piece of wood to quarter-inch thick metal.  Until a week ago, I would have thought it necessary to drill a hole in the wood and drill a hole in the metal and then tap some threads in the hole in the metal.  If I did that, I'd need to make sure that the holes lined up exactly, and that the hole in the wood was a size larger than the hole in the metal so the threads didn't engage the wood, and I'd have to exercise some care in tapping threads.  A week ago, I was introduced to this screw. 

The tip of the screw is hard metal shaped into a bit.  It's the first thing the wood feels, as it rapidly gets holed.  The next thing the wood feels is a pair of "ears" behind the bit; these widen the hole in the wood so that the wood never feels the threads on the screw.  When the tip of the screw has traveled through the wood and hits the metal, it keeps on drilling.  When the ears hit the metal, they snap off and become lodged in the wood.  The first bit of threading is grooved to act as a tap, and it cuts threads into the metal.  Then, the threads bite into the metal, and pull the head--and ultimately the wood--snug against the metal.

It's brilliant: you clamp your wooden post into place on the metal, put one of these screws on your drill, and away you go--and in a few seconds, your post is firmly in place.  It's ancient technology--the screw is simply an inclined plane, one of the classical "simple machines."  It's high tech--I assume some metallurgical expertise had to go into making the bit and tap parts hard enough, and the screw precise, and it would be useless without power tools to drive it.  Brilliant--to whoever designed this, Bravo/Brava!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


We Found six kittens
and I found way more
Four Leaf clovers and
The kittens names are:
Flufy, PuffBall, Mopet, Mittens,
Midnight, April.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Introducing a guest blogger

Good golly things have been busy around here--so busy I haven't been able to do much here.  In an effort to get more consistent reporting, I've decided to bring in guest bloggers.  My hope is that I'll be able to preserve the unique character and voice of this blog while maintaining the frequent posting which I know so many readers value in a blog.  The identities of the guest bloggers must, unfortunately, remain secret, and I won't be flagging the guest posts--I make this note only in the interest of full disclosure.

OK, back to work.  I've got some laundry to do.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tuesday Tool

Over the last few months, I've been developing an appreciation of the utility and functional beauty of certain tools. Some are pretty basic, like the screw, their inventors unknown but still worthy of thanks. Others are basic, but surprisingly, their inventors known, such as the Phillips head screw. Either way, many's the time I find myself yanking nails or trimming a joint and pausing to give thanks to someone who had a flash of insight that is saving me some labor.

So, here's to the genii at the Crescent tool company of Bridgeport, makers of the #56 Suregrip nail puller. I love this tool.
You open up the sharpened, parrot-like jaws and place them on either side of the nail head. The handle slides up and down on the shaft, and you use that to whack the jaws down into the wood; they pinch on either side of the nail. The shorter arm then rests against the wood while you yard on the longer arm, pulling the nail out. It's beautiful and inspired because it doesn't matter if the nail head breaks off (which happens an awful lot with our house's 1930's nails), the harder you pull, the harder the tool grips the nail. Genius.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday Flora

A totally charming gooseberry
from here

That is all.