Tuesday, August 31, 2010

so much fun...

Mr. Floppy's punching bag came in today for a snack.  I call this burro JR (short for Jack Rockwell - after a friend from Brooklyn).  This poor guy keeps getting kicked in the same spot on his neck...you would think that he would learn to avoid the business end of his nemesis.  I think he knows who his real friend is now - he just figured out it is OK for me to hand feed him today.

I put off a dreaded chore for as long as I could - just had to get started setting the foundation blocks for the north side of the containers.  The west side was a breeze but the east side involved a lot of rock chopping.  I forgot how much "fun" it really wasn't.  90,98,68,0,B

Monday, August 30, 2010

Ukelele day...

Was in the office all day today planning the next phase of materials puchasing and construction. Showered and made a run to the Starlight for 241 night.  Did a live webcast for my friend Kristinna who is all tucked in back in Albany.  She dined on a sushi delivery while Dr. Doug and I gobbled some burgers.  Beat a rainstorm home by a half hour.

About 2 weeks ago, my friend JD sent me a link to a brilliant video by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain....just a couple of days after my friend OGT loaned me a ukulele.   http://www.youtube.com/user/UkuleleOrchestra#p/u/9/dKpzCCuHDVY  I am smitten with the instrument now.  89,100,74, .26",B

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Taenipoda eques

Had a late arrival last night at The Field Lab...my buddy Brad from Alpine was out visiting his property west of me yesterday and ended up getting bogged down in sand near Terlingua Creek after a brief freak rain event.  He walked 3 miles and came a knocking at 10PM.  Put him up in the "woo room" for the night.

Called in the big guns in the morning to help drag his vehicle out....Chuck and Aunt Kathy.  Took us 2 hours to inch his truck out of the deep sand with my truck as the anchor and Chuck and his Kubota with some chains and 2 come-alongs.  That pretty much did it for all of us by 1:30 in the afternoon. 

At sunset I had only my second sighting of the season out here of the big grasshoppers known as Mexican Generals.  90,100,72,0,B

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

early post...

Abbreviated day today...slept in while Benita patiently waited for breakfast.  Charged up a sealed 8Ah battery with a 15W solar panel this morning and checked it out with the panning rig.  Ran it continuously for over 3 hours with plenty of juice to spare.

Shutting down early tonight....heading to the Ghost Town for the evening - a farewell dinner for my upstate friend Kristinna - one of Terlingua's favorite summer visitors.  She starts her long drive home to Albany tomorrow morning.  Photo added at 1:45AM  82,93,71,0,B

Thursday, August 26, 2010

one million served...

Larry Hayden (my visitor from a couple of weeks ago) finally got into the darkroom and made some prints. http://www.larrydhayden.com/  He has just started a photo essay about the Field Lab.  I'm really looking forward to his return for more images.

The How To for the camera panning mechanism met a major snag today.  Sourcing my parts, I found that the gear motor gizmo I'm using was out of stock....ahhh, the dark side of surplus.  Will come up with some alternates soon I hope.  For over 10 years, my absolute favorite weird place to shop from is American Science and Surplus.  http://www.sciplus.com/  I love the descriptions of their stuff for sale (it is worth getting on their catalog mailing list just to see it in print) and they keep coming up with items that I seem to "need".

Just got word from friend Chuck Monson that his travels are progressing.  God love 'im, he is 85 years old and just started blogging....!  http://prunepicker.blogspot.com/

Been keeping an eye on my site meter this week - having just crossed the 400,000 visit mark.  Someone from in Dallas performed page view 1,000,000 at 8:26:17 this morning. I think someone deserves a prize.  82,86,65,0,B

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

parts test...

Assembled some parts'n'wires and checked out the new motor controller....working better than expected.  One of the 3 gear motors I ordered cooperated with the effort quite well.  Just a few more tweaks and I will be ready for a "how to".  Break in the middle of the day - a tour for my new buddy Chuck Monson from Looziana.  For enquiring minds I am providing an underside view of my soldering prowess.  77,86,68, .03" overnight, B

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

No Monday?

Hmmmmm....for some reason, the day slipped away and there was no time for a Monday blog post.  Recap: a morning tour, a quick Alpine run, and the usual great 241 night at the Starlight - and dessert at Cinta's beautiful home with some really great friends.  Woke this morning to the sound of burros fighting outside my door.  Benita was standing by looking perplexed at all the commotion.  Fed everyone and all was well.

Got the motors I ordered to experiment with for the new camera panning mechanism.  Did a water run to the Ghost Town just in case tonight's storm gets sucked into the vortex.  All set to go with indoor projects in case of a downpour.  Expecting at least some rain tonight and the winds are already picking up.  Rather difficult to sleep with a windy overnight.

Stopped by to check out the old church in the Ghost Town for the first time with my upstate NY friend Kristinna. 
8 / 23  92,102,70,0,B
8 / 24  82,101,67,0,G

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Saturday, August 21, 2010

the vortex...

Early billowy clouds built up in the area by noon today.  Did a supply and laundry run south to prep just in case.  Big storms built up all around today but the Field Lab Vortex kept the rain at bay.  Passed up on a party down in the Ghost Town tonight, watching the doppler expand and contract right before my very eyes all afternoon.  Not a drop here....but I was ready - just in case.  Here is the vortex in action...the cross hairs in the center of the frame is the location of TFL.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmiEbW8lriA  80,97,72,0,W

Friday, August 20, 2010

a land far away...

So I move to the middle of nowhere in the SW Texas desert and what do I do?  Use the garage of a friend who grew up in Brooklyn and rotate my tires with the help of a friend who grew up in Jamaica - then fed prickly pear fruit by hand to my pet longhorn.  Who'd a thought...  Just another Freaky Field Lab Friday.  84,102,75,T,B

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Met up this morning with my friend Kristinna to give her the full tour.  She is a school teacher in Albany,NY...just 45 minutes from my old upstate hood.  We met out here last year - she comes to the Big Bend every chance she gets.  Had a good time showing her the compound.  Lunch back at the GrubShack and a chance to introduce her to some of the locals north of the Ghost Town. (photo by Kristinna Blanchard)

OGT (budding Texas folk artist) and Rachel (his mentor) came out next for a drop in.  Rachel brought me an old bicycle to start rigging for a bike powered washing machine.  In exchange, I am building an adjustable camera stand for her still and video cameras.  We all hung out and chewed the fat in the shade for a couple of hours.

Got two circuits I ordered in the mail today.  One is a backup timer for my swamp cooler and the other is a DC motor speed controller for my new panning camera system.  I have ordered a lot of stuff over the years from this website  http://www.electronickits.com/  They have a great selection of electronic stuff and super fast service when ordering.

Topped off the day by grinding up a 3 gallon bucket of prickly pear fruit to make one more gallon of juice.  93,100,75,0,C

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

liquid gold...

That's what I used to call my home made maple syrup back in upstate NY.  It took a whole lot of sugar maple sap to make it (40:1) but I never got stung by a tree.  Jarred up one pint of honey this afternoon, saved from the bee move.  Since most of this honey (dark amber) was made from plant pollen from another part of the ranch, it will be interesting to see if they make a different color of honey once they get established at the Field Lab.

Cleaned up the house this morning - including much needed vacuuming!  Had just the kind of encounter I spoke about 2 days ago with the first visitors of season three.  Michael , Liz, and Cal came out for the grand tour.  It was my absolute pleasure to meet up with them last night at the Starlight and happy to show them around today.  It was really nice to make 3 new friends.  Benita cooperated by being on hand for their visit today.  95,100,66,0,B

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Season Three

Half a day researching parts for a more substantial panning rig for my camera.  Finally found some motors and controllers that might just work for me so I placed some orders.  Added 3 hours of fighting with my new video editing software to I could post tonight's feature....the season climax.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=weGPXxIAk-s  Late afternoon thunderstorm blew in so I had to shut down all systems for awhile.  As usual, the heaviest rain fell all around but not on me.  77,100,75, .24", W

722 blog posts later, it has now been exactly 2 years since I started recanting my daily experience on the internet.  What I thought was just going to be an outlet for my daily journal has become an incredible network of friends.  It is especially nice to get visitors that appreciate what I've been up to since arriving in the desert almost 3 years ago.  Special thanks to Psyclesam, who has become a very good friend and invaluable contributor with his efforts as IT director.

now...on with the show.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

bee moving day...

Julianne, the Official Field Lab Bee Keeper, came out this morning to move the bees out of their speaker box into a proper bee box. (video coming soon)  All went according to plan and hopefully they will settle into their new accommodations quickly.  They seem to be pretty chilled out and hopefully that will make for some extra sweet honey.  I got stung late this afternoon but barely felt it.  I like to think it was just a thank you for the new digs - they were pretty cramped in their old location.  91,101,71,0,B

Friday, August 13, 2010

photo projects...

Late night last night trying to get some shooting star photos...no luck - my G9 only does 15 second exposures and I don't have the wired cable release for my Canon film camera.  Up till 1:30 which is way past my bed time.  I'm feeling it today.  Only five hours of sleep last night when I am used to my normal nine. 

First task of the day - bake a loaf of no knead bread (onion/parmesan)to deliver to my friends Suzy and Carla who run the Cheshire Cat Antique Store in Alpine.  Rolled down to Study Butte for an oil change while the bread cooled.  In and out in a "jiffy" then back to the GrubShack for an early lunch and to deliver flowers to Eva for her birthday.  Filled to the gills, I made the trip north for parts and the delivery.  A recent brush fire just south of alpine burned up a whole slew of yuccas.  91,101,72,0,B

Got enthralled a while back by a link to some panning time lapse videos shot in the Big Bend.  For the life of me, I can't find the link - but still searching.  However, here is a very good example of the effect  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7UUP8ESxnw   The rig used to shoot the precision videos costs about $800.  I did some searching online and found an $8 solution...mind you it is very basic and does not have the amount of control as the expensive version - but it works pretty good.  Bought two cheap wind up kitchen timers for my experiment.  Here are links to videos of the cheap modification and my first test.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

One Less Cowboy

I received word last night that my Uncle Buff Rutherford passed away.  He is the "real cowboy" I dedicated my "West is the Best" poem to.  As a child (growing up watching television shows like Bonanza, The Big Valley, and the Wild, Wild West) my uncle seemed like a super hero to me.  As I got older, I grew to understand that he was just a regular man - but a man of great faith, a generous spirit, and a very hard worker who deeply loved his family and friends.  If I could aspire to be half the man he was, I'd be doing pretty good.

The local newspaper for the area where he lived most of his life just published a two part story about him last month - a fitting tribute to a man just before this death.

I was fortunate to have hand written a letter to him just in time for him to read it - about the recent passing of his sister, my Crazy Aunt Jean.  Her book about their young lives is still available.
Another Colorado Whoopenhollar has gone to heaven.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Monday, August 9, 2010

quick rinse...

Funny how all your propane runs out at the same time.  Two of my 20lb tanks ran out within 24 hours of each other.  Made a run down to SB for refills.  Big storms rolled into the area this afternoon and swamped out my guest for the night.  Ten days of no rain coming up so we should be able to connect tomorrow.  Got a brief downpour that slicked up part of my road pretty good but rinsed off the new roofing.  I will be getting about 2500 gallons per inch of rain off the greenhouse when everything is in place.  77,99,75, .11" , W

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sunday guest...

All Field Lab operations were closed today for a gift bearing guest.  My friend Paul came out for his 3rd visit and brought custom printed m&m's.  90,102,72,0,B

Saturday, August 7, 2010

east end flush...

Just like yesterday but with a 2 loads of laundry done.  95,103,70,0,B

Friday, August 6, 2010

west end flush...

Clamped down yesterdays cut piece of roofing for the SW end this morning - marked and trimmed the purlins accordingly then screwed it down.  Later in the day, I cut the roofing piece for the NW edge.  Repeated the morning routine.

Thanks for the skill saw tip....hadn't even thought of that.  Seeing how I don't have that blade for the saw but I do have 20 cutting blades for the grinder - I went ahead with what I had.  A straight line and a steady hand is all I need for now.  Only 2 more cuts to go.  Will take the good advice if I ever need to cut a lot of roofing.  92,101,73,0,B

Thursday, August 5, 2010

cut test...

Took half a day to narrow down my best options on the transparent corrugated polycarbonate.  Lunched at "you know where" and they were swamped with customers today.  Shot home to clean up for a brief tour.  

Worked the afternoon away planning the final assault on the roof system.  Just had to accomplish some facet of physical labor to photograph, so I marked and cut a piece of tin to flush out the SW edge of the roof. A cutting wheel on the grinder beats the hell out of tin snips - especially for an eight foot long slice.  92,99,75,0,B

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

cold steel...

The roof is coming together so quickly, I took the day off for some engineering to insure the that the progress will continue.

Happy Birthday to the best friend I have out here.  I am proud to know you (and your wife - my second best friend).  Here's to many more happy years for us all in the desert.  94,104,70,0 B

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

north side done...

Got 8 sheets of tin mounted while things heated up this morning.  Rinsed off and GrubShacked for lunch.  Cleaned house then searched the internet for my best option on the transparent corrugated polycarbonate for the big sky light - still no luck but I am getting close.  Got 8 more sheets up from 6 - 8PM to finish off the north side.  Now my greenhouse has wings.  93,103,66,0,B

Monday, August 2, 2010

half day...

Nice and cool 68 degrees when I got up this morning.  Headed out early and got the 4 middle sections of roofing up on the north side.  Temps rose quickly and I was dripping by the time I finished.  Wanted to get these done first - all the rest will be much easier since I can work off the containers.

Quit at 11 and showered off. 
Decided to make an Alpine run today since it was gonna be a hot one.  There is grass growing everywhere out here now.  Lots of longhorns in my front yard all morning and I passed this group on the way out.  The cowbirds seem to enjoy the perch at my entrance. 
Stocked up on essentials and had a nice long visit with Bennett Jones and his daughter Lydia.  Their garden is doing quite well.  Lots of solar food and solar electricity pumping into their house.  91,102,68,0,C

Special note:  Jerry and Eva of GrubShack fame both took first place at the Terlingua Ranch Lodge Ice Cream Crank Off for two of their specialty ice cream flavors - Chocolate and (my favorite) Monkey Shack.  Yet another good reason to visit the GrubShack.