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Michael Cox

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since Jun 09, 2013
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Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Recent posts by Michael Cox

My little weekend project has been working with an old brace and bit, and set of auger bits. I picked them up for about £15 all together, and there are about 30 different bits. Some of the bits are damaged and they were all blunt. The brace itself seems to be in excellent working order, if a little tarnished in places. It has a ratchet mechanism which is working well, and a blessing when using the bigger diameter bits.

I bought a tiny file and found a youtube video with instruction on sharpening. An hour or so later I had salvaged 10 really nice bits that sharpened up and cut nicely. I'm pretty pleased.

We finished the evening making a mini-rocket-log. I bored a hole down vertically into the end grain of a log, then one to meet it horizontally into the side. The wood was a little on the green side, so it took a lot of coaxing to get get going, but then stayed burning steadily for about three hours at what would probably be best described as a "low simmer" - no rockety flames, but steady heat from embers lining the burn chimney. I'm thinking about fishing a bunch of logs out of the woodshed, drilling them now in advance, and letting them season for longer. The extra holes should speed it up.

Any ideas for simple bushcraft type projects? I'm thinking a split log stool with legs might be next. I also need to get a few longer bits, and at least one wider one. My widest is currently 1", but I'd like a 1.5".

Here are the videos I used as a guide

1 day ago
A useful bow saw safety tip...

If you hold the work with your left hand, and saw with the right, then the saw can jump and mangle the back of your left hand. You can totally prevent this by reaching  OVER or THROUGH the bow with your left hand and hold the piece of wood on the other side of the blade. The work is stabilised, but if the saw jumps it safely bounces the blunt side of the blade against your forearm, instead of the back of your hand. It takes a bit of getting used to, but for most jobs is just as convenient as the conventional grip. I do the same with my folding silky saw.
1 day ago
Hi folks,

I have experimented with a ferment at home. It is 3 liter glass kilner jar, so I can see the colour and activity.

It is jerusalem artichoke, some turmuric and other spices, and salt (amount as per a recipe I found).

The batch bubbled nicely, tastes fantastic and has a lovely vibrant yellow colour from the turmuric except for the very top layer, which is discoloured to a grey/green. I believe that is has oxidised, and looks unappetising.  I removed the top chunks and closed it up again. By morning the fresh top layer had discoloured again.

1) I the discoloured layer safe to eat?
2) What should I do differently to ensure future batches don't discolour?

I love ferments generally, and want to keep going, but need a little reassurance.
3 days ago

Neal Stephenson, "Diamond Age"
"You know, when I was a young man, hypocrisy was deemed the worst of vices," Finkle-McGraw said. "It was all because of moral relativism. You see, in that sort of a climate, you are not allowed to criticise others--after all, if there is no absolute right and wrong, then what grounds is there for criticism?"


"Now, this led to a good deal of general frustration, for people are naturally censorious and love nothing better than to criticise others' shortcomings. And so it was that they seized on hypocrisy and elevated it from a ubiquitous peccadillo into the monarch of all vices. For, you see, even if there is no right and wrong, you can find grounds to criticise another person by contrasting what he has espoused with what he has actually done. In this case, you are not making any judgment whatsoever as to the correctness of his views or the morality of his behaviour--you are merely pointing out that he has said one thing and done another. Virtually all political discourse in the days of my youth was devoted to the ferreting out of hypocrisy.


"We take a somewhat different view of hypocrisy," Finkle-McGraw continued. "In the late-twentieth-century Weltanschauung, a hypocrite was someone who espoused high moral views as part of a planned campaign of deception--he never held these beliefs sincerely and routinely violated them in privacy. Of course, most hypocrites are not like that. Most of the time it's a spirit-is-willing, flesh-is-weak sort of thing."

"That we occasionally violate our own stated moral code," Major Napier said, working it through, "does not imply that we are insincere in espousing that code." "Of course not," Finkle-McGraw said. "It's perfectly obvious, really. No one ever said that it was easy to hew to a strict code of conduct. Really, the difficulties involved--the missteps we make along the way--are what make it interesting. The internal, and eternal, struggle, between our base impulses and the rigorous demands of our own moral system is quintessentially human. It is how we conduct ourselves in that struggle that determines how we may in time be judged by a higher power." All three men were quiet for a few moments, chewing mouthfuls of beer or smoke, pondering the matter.

3 days ago
I believe Paul posted recently about recycling. How what we need is 90% of people doing it imperfectly, rather than aiming for perfection.
4 days ago

Dale Hodgins wrote:I think starting with liquid slows the whole process down because of the limited surface area. And the way it's set up, the humidity is always very high, which limits evaporation speed. Consider this. Start with a bunch of granular salt,  either stuff you've made or stuff you bought. Let's say we start with 20 lb. Lay it out roughly in the bottom of your evaporation container with lots of humps and bumps. You want most of it to rise above the surface of water that you're adding. Now instead of trying to reach a high temperature, use a flat plate collector and send lots of warm air over the granular material. The air will pick up lots of moisture and the granular material will continue to wick water from beneath until it's all gone. Top up regularly. If your pile of salt eventually settles into a relatively smooth shape, break it up to maintain the high surface area. You might want to filter incoming air so it doesn't give you a mixture of salt, dust and bugs.

You wouldn't have to start with salt. You could start with a pile of really nice clean black basalt pebbles. They would get covered in salt crystals soon enough and you would have the rough surface without having to start with any salt.

My chemical engineer training tells me this is sound advice - although you would probably end up with larger crystals as they keep on growing.
4 days ago
Salt shakers are a fairly modern invention that go hand in hand with commercially produced - and hence consistently grain sized - salt. You might look at using a "salt pig" and a small wooden spoon.

Salt pigs
4 days ago
My aunt knitted some amazing items for our baby from a Bamboo fiber yarn. Super soft and lovely.

r ranson wrote:In a forum setting, the word count is huge.  We don't really need to edit out hedging.  We can merge qualifying and hedging together to make our communication softer.

In print media, things are different.  Too many words lose the attention of the reader.  They read print media to discover what an authority has to say on the topic.  In this situation, removing hedging gives the writing more power to influence the reader.  

I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.

I love this quote, because it sums up what I try to achieve in my communication. When I write I take the time to craft my words to make my meaning clear. Hedging obscures clarity, but also shifts the cognitive burden to the reader. Simple words, clearly drafted, are powerful.

I feel that the unlimited word count on things like forums and facebook distract from that clarity, because little pressure is felt by the writer to craft their meaning carefully.