Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Saving Sunny-D - Day 84

A couple of weeks ago I received a sunflower plant and sat him in the tomato house to acclimatise to the outside world before planting him near the veg plot to grow and shine. Imagine my horror when the very next day I found he had been got at by the local gang of thug slugs. Will they stop at nothing? Poor 'Sunny-D' (you have to be a certain age to know why he is called Sunny-D) looked so sad with great chunks of his leaves missing. I swear those slugs are really locusts without wings.

There was nothing for it. I was going to have to offer him protection but what could I do? He is planted directly in the ground and my ESDS (Electric Slug Defence System) does not encompass him. There was only one thing for it. Sunny-D was going to need an ESDS of his own and quick! It was now nearly 7pm so I was going to have to think fast. It only need be temporary until Sunny-D's foliage is too high for slugs to reach (they get dizzy with altitude) so out came the copper tape, soldering iron, rolls of wire and, looking round for the last component, an empty milk carton! I can have this done within the hour and get it in place before dark so Sunny-D will have a night of peace.

I cut the top and bottom of the milk carton, wrapped two rows of copper tape round it and soldered on the wires. Very gently I cupped his leaves just enough to allow me to slip the carton over and down the stem, bedding it on the ground. Hooking it up to the battery to supply the usual 6.01Volts (Evil Pixies) the job was done. Would it work?

At around 2am, while traipsing to the loo in the night (usual at my age) I wondered weather the SDESDS (Sunny-D Electric Slug Defence System) was working. There was nothing for it, I had to check. Thank heaven all the neighbours were in bed asleep. They would think I'd really lost it wandering out into the garden, torch in hand slug hunting. The two ring leaders Cedric Slug and Cyril Slug were over by the beans munching on a poor unprotected weed (probably miffed that the beans were still unreachable) but there was a slug making his way off Sunny-D's carton. I do suspect he had a headache through a zapping from the EP's (Evil Pixies) as he was not in a good mood. The protection was working.

Early next morning (this morning) Sunny-D was the first plant I checked for raid damage and he was fine. Still nursing his wounds from the initial attack but I'm sure it will not hold him back. He will be growing onward and upward again as soon as he gains his second wind. Unless of course the slugs do get their way but not on this home boys turf.

Monday, 8 June 2020

Mask Project Completed - Day 83

As of 5.30am this morning my mask making adventures came to an end with this last batch of 30 masks for the local Outreach Network. This takes the total masks made to 814 in the seven weeks the project ran. I am relieved there is no longer a need from our NHS, care staff, support workers and other various carers in the community for essential PPE. The job's done and I am finished cutting, sewing, pressing and packaging for some 60 plus hours a week. I feel I have done my bit in this crisis and now look forward to converting my living room back to habitation and catching up on some sleep!

Thank you to all those too numerous to mention that have donated fabric, cotton and other sewing consumables to the cause. Also to those who have provided nutrition (some anonymously) at my doorstep, it was very much appreciated.

I have no desire to make masks for sale as there are others who are trying to earn enough money to get by during these restrictions. PPE is also generally available for purchase again so BoJo's impending requirement for mask wearing in public will not, in my view, cause many problems. Even though (through the behaviour of more people than I imagined) I'm beginning to think common sense is not as common as it once was, most people should be able to fabricate something suitable in a pinch and this situation can be resolved as soon as possible so we can ALL get back to normaility.

Friday, 5 June 2020

More Masks! - Day 80

Another 60 masks completed and off to the Outreach Service today. Total made so far is 786 and counting. I was hoping the pressure would be easing but with many people feeling that social distancing is now not as necessary I feel there will still be a need for masks.

The UK government has just announced that masks will soon be compulsory in public which is something I had been expecting but I don't feel it will mean upping my production from 60 a week to a 100 again even if there is a second wave of infection as most members of the public (whom I am not making masks for) will have the ability to make or buy their own. I am hoping most people will use their common sense but I do fear common sense is not all that common any more, We will see,

Thursday, 4 June 2020

Electrification! - Day 79

I really didn't think I would have a slug problem in my little tomato house but I was wrong. Up early and out to check on things revealed I had been the victim of a night time raid with three of my standby plants attacked. One being felled at the trunk! There was only one thing to do. Electrification!

Pressing two of my now unused incubation boxes back into service (which already had the copper strips on) was the fastest and easiest means to protect the remaining plants, so out came the hot glue gun to fill in and seal off the drain holes in the bottom. I could now use them as water reservoirs in place of the existing buckets. A quick wire up to the communal battery and I soon had the nominal 6.01 volts (also known as evil pixies) flowing. Never a dull moment in the battle of wits with these slimy opportunists. 

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

The Black Dog Visits - Day 78

Usually I see the black dog out of the corner of my eye and know I have to adopt some creative strategies to ensure he goes away before he becomes a pain but I've had my head down so much making masks lately that I didn't notice him creeping about. Yesterday I got up and there he was, large as life, in my face. I knew the day was going to be a non productive one (hence no post yesterday). After trying to shoo him away with no success it was time to do something. Usually a good walk in the park is helpful as I can let my mind wander, usually onto problems to solve on my making projects but thanks to Mr. Covid (who live at 19) that's out. The next best place is my workshop where I can get engrossed in my creativity. Opening the door to the 8x6 I tell the black dog he cannot come in as, with all that equipment, it would be too dangerous for him so he's happy to sit outside and wait for me. I still have the yarn bowl to finish and I had been putting it off as I had reached the fiddly bit of cutting and shaping and wanted to be in the right frame of mind so I didn't spoil it. Looks like it's now or never. With brew in hand I cogitated for some time on the best was to cut the curly slot and came to the decision that the fret saw was the way to go but, because of the shape of the bowl, I wouldn't be able to turn the frame of the saw enough. A few more swigs from my tea and an idea started to form. Instead of using a standard fretsaw blade I robbed a spiral blade from the electric scroll-saw stash and with a little modification was able to grip it in the hand held fretsaw frame. Scroll-saw blades are held under a lot more tension than the manual fretsaw blades so there was a chance of twisting, kinking or even breaking the blade all to easily so I'd have to be careful. As I didn't have to think about turning the saw it was a breeze! I had stayed well away from the lines so there was a lot of sanding and shaping to do but the extra time it took was a good investment against straying off line. All that remained was to scallop the top and place two knitting needle holes in the right place and I could breath easy again.

With the shaping done I took my time and sanded down to 320 grit before finishing to a 600 finish with the Yorkshire Grit abrasive paste. There is some polishing to do so its still on the lathe but, growing tired, I'd done enough for the day. I lock up and turned round and the blag dog was nowhere to be seen, Obviously he knew I was thoroughly enjoying myself and his black moods would no longer have an effect on me so he'd cleared off.

Monday, 1 June 2020

8x6 Explodes Online - Again! - Day 76

It's a year to the day that I made a video that I didn't want to do and yet it's been the most popular by far.
Much preferring to make animated adventures with Stanley the Clamp or a good woodturning or woodworking project video, I kept putting off the many requests to make a workshop tour video. In the end I caved in and, on the 1st of June 2019 published one. In September that year it was featured on the American 'Hack a Day' website and clocked up so many views it pushed it to the top of the most watched on my channel. At the time I was ill in bed and had a fever so when my tablet kept pinging at me with 'you have a new subscriber' over and over again I was convinced it was something my fever ridden brain was making up and not part of reality at all. It wasn't until a friend phoned up to see how I was and confirmed my channel had gone 'ballistic' that I knew it was reality after all. It didn't take long before settling back down to average ratings when the novelty wore off. That was until about a week ago when my tablet started again repeating 'You have a new subscriber'. Had I got another fever? Was I succumbing to Covid-19? I felt OK. My temperature was fine. I don't own a thermometer so I used the temperature probe on my multimeter. No! I stuck it in my mouth, OK! It gave a reading so low (as it's designed to read very high temperatures) that I should have been dead so I knew I was OK. I logged in to YouTube and, well, I'll go to the foot of our stairs. The views were off the chart and averaging over 1,100 an hour pushing the total views to over 345,000.

Could YouTube have decided to promote it? Possibly. Has someone shared it to a group or an on line magazine. Highly Likely. Could it just be bored woodworkers shut indoors through lock-down trying to get their fix for their woodworking 'habit'? I've no idea. All I know is I've got over a thousand more comments to answer and respond to. Am I complaining? Nope! I am just glad that it's wired up to the household alarm and the 'defence system' will bite back with 230 evil pixies if disturbed!

Friday, 29 May 2020

On the Up! - Day 73

Jack and the beanstalk is not a fable, it's a documentary! With the warm weather and good evenings of watering you can almost see these guys growing. At this rate I'm going to lose sight of the neighbours in a couple more weeks behind a wall of runner beans!
The lettuce are taking over the top floors of my vertical planter and even the wild poppies are enjoying themselves! My two squash plants have settled in to their planter very well and I expect them to be charging ahead very soon.

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Mother Daughter and Doll - Day 72

Another batch of 107 masks for the Community Outreach group (taking the total made to 724) but this time with a special request for a Mother, Daughter and Doll! The young lady in question is autistic and will not wear a mask unless her doll has the exact same mask so there is only one thing to do. Two masks for mother, daughter and doll because of course dolls need constant changes of clothes! Fifty plus years ago there was no such thing as Autistic Spectrum. If there had been I would has qualified for the first rung at the very least instead of being labelled 'Stupid' so I know exactly where this young lady is coming from.
This shipment uses up the remnants of cloth left over from previous batches and a recent request for more cotton and poly cotton fabric has realised a new influx of materials for future manufacture. NHS and front line services are pretty much OK for PPE in our area but support staff, care workers, childcare personnel among many others are still in need if they are to abide by the guidelines in these current relaxing of restrictions.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Blogger is Bugging Me - Day 71

My own code under construction
My own code under construction
As Blogger is obviously not an income leading application and its importance in the Universe of Google is low so piss up in a brewery springs to mind and it's bugging me big style.
Google's own blog hosting app Blogger is really beginning to bug me since their unannounced decision to upgrade it. Even the simplest of tasks such as wrapping text around pictures has gone from a one click action to a multi click operation. Margins around images decide for themselves if they are going to work or not and as you can see here it's decided on the latter! Some options have disappeared altogether and the only action I have found to regain these lost facilities is to go in and hard code the posts HTML code directly. Hey, I'm old, I haven't got time for this. I do suspect this already simple to use editing tool is being 'dumbed down' further so even a Sun reader can use it as they conform its style and likeness to their other online apps. It does feel like another hap hazard upgrade with the users of the system being the guinea pigs to test run the new application and the forums are full of upset users. Posts don't always post as they should do, pictures go missing for no reason, some entries refuse to save and no explanations are forthcoming.
When working for myself I never relied on the actions of a third party to effect the core running of my business and now in retirement I'm certainly not going to rely on a service I cannot rely on so over the last few days I've been brushing up on HTML5 CSS3 and Javascript to write and host my own blog application. I am now in the testing stage and when I am happy with it Blogger is going bye bye. When the time for exodus nears I will give good warning to both my readers so they can continue to read the mindless drivel of this doddering old git in this blogs new home.

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Lab Coat On, Nothing Done! - Day 70

Another evening off mask making – Oh what to do?
Last night I thought I would disappear into the workshop and finish up the yarn bowl project which is now long overdue but I didn't want to risk losing the ability to count up to ten by using potentially life changing machinery when tired so opted instead to play in my lab for a few hours before bed. The lab -also known as my back bedroom- needed a good tidying up before I could even begin to think about actually doing something so, in between swigs from my pint of strong tea and several trips downstairs for refils and snacks, I set to. I didn't actually make anything but I do now have the tidiest lab in the street and my OCD is satisfied!