Thursday 25 August 2016

Something's wrong here

It's strange how the mind works . . . ahem fails to work properly.  We are going great guns on the wood shed first mentioned when it was little more than 6 poles in the ground, more or less vertical. We have the wall-plate (6x3s = 150mm x 75mm) at the top of the poles and the skirt (6x2 = 150mm x 50mm) at the bottom. These structural members are bolted through the telephone-poles with 12mm threaded bar which is trimmed to size after it has been seated all tight. Between the top and bottom, we put in 3 runs of 2x4 = 50mm x 100mm for horizontal studding.  I'll talk about the roof at another time; but it is also up to provide a conveniently dry workshop for cutting and fixing the remaining timbers.  These are 130+ vertical 6x1s in western red cedar Thuja plicata which felled out of a great estate in Adare Co. Limerick and milled to size by Jim Davis in Graiguecullen across the river from Carlow.  Say what you want about planter scum the Anglo-Irish, (ahem, my people), but they did play a long game when it came to planting trees. I love the idea of using such a tree rather some nameless lengths of pressure-treated generic wood from who-knows-where.

Anyway, we've spent a few days cutting these 6x1s to length - because of the slope on the site we have two different fundamental lengths and the outside leaf of our hit-and-miss
is longer and has a water-shedding external drip point - see diagram [L] of skirting with two sandwiching 6x1s bearing in mind that inside and outside are only partially in the same plane [see above]. Now there is a helluva lot of bounce in a 12ft = 3.6m length of 4x2 if you're trying to hammer a nail in. So we found it convenient to brace the walls with a wedged spar forming a hypoteneuse between the ground and the wall; and/or brace an off-cut between the point of nail-impact and, say, my capacious pectorals.  That provides an additional lump of inertia against the driven nail.  The most useful piece of kit apart from hammer and nails is an old plywood packing crate that you can stand on to get an additional x y or z of extra height.

I was hammering away like a zen master - we're using 65mm sunk-head nails #210/kg - when unbidden the thought came that a perfect fool might start the blunt end of the nail into the wood. Just then Young Bolivar turned round and said "You've put that one in the wrong way, why aren't you wearing your glasses?". Some part of my mind had been flagging the fact that I was going at it arse-ways but without sufficient imperative for my executive brain to pay attention. Shows I can whang a nail in any which way.

It reminded me of more serious consequences for a disconnected brain. More than 10 years ago, a new family appeared on the Irish home education block. This was good because new people, new ideas, new approaches are to be welcomed. As well as being a new face, the Fear an tí was an engineer for one of the multinational computer companies . . . he might be the chap on whom I could foist the website for our home ed disorganisation. He sort of agreed to do this but nothing active happened in taking up the task. Several months later, we met again: his arm was in a brace and he was limping and had a copper-fastened excuse for not getting down to the HTML:

His kids had been learning about aerodynamics and fluid turbulence by flying a kite. The kite had gotten tangled with some over head wires and the children were roaring at each other and throwing sticks ineffectually at their learning tool. Their father, who was trying to work-from-home, went out to quell the disturbance and got engaged in the problem.
What they wanted, he opined, was a really long stick.
The kids rushed off to find that really long bamboo that's behind the garage.
It wasn't near long enough.
What about if we put out the step-ladder and poke with a couple of extra meters of height?
Still short.
Then The Da had a brain-wave: he remembered the telescopic loppers that he'd bought in the innocent belief that he'd get round to pruning tops of the leggy apple-trees.
As lifted his unused aluminium garden toy tool, the better view from the top of the ladder made him look across the fields to a transformer attached to one of the poles further up the line. His engineer's brain wondered whether that was a 10kV transformer or rather a 20kV job.
The next thing his children saw was their father making a meteoric (flames, blue light) descent to earth to lie there smoking. Obviously he survived: with skin grafts and months of physiotherapy his doctors were hopeful that he'd get 40% function back in his dominant hand.

It all goes to show that you can be a rocket scientist - or an IBM engineer - and still be as thick as pig-dribble in a different compartment of your brain. See my near-death-experience in the lab or foolish remarks to, or about, female students. Then again Isaac Newton, who could claim to be the smartest man ever on the planet, cut a new smaller cat-flap in his door when his cat had kittens - or did he??

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