Wednesday, October 31, 2012

second fence run

Was only planning on pounding in the north fence line t posts today...finished in only 1 1/2 hours so went ahead and did the full deed.  Braced for the big pull with my truck to do the stretching with chains and come alongs I borrowed from Chuck.  71,84,42,0,C,0

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

first fence run

First run (the shortest) went well.  I have read about and watched enough video to feel like I've done field fencing even though I never have.  It all happened like it was supposed to and was actually pretty easy.  Pulled it tight as per instructions and my ends didn't budge.   69,82,45,0,C,0

Monday, October 29, 2012

International Harvester Red

Last pole barn post firmly planted.  Drove 11 t posts with ease (happy it happened that way because it's the first time I've done t posts) 
Painted up the 3 corners.  66,80,41,0,C,0  Blissful weather here...prayed for the NE.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

selfish ambition

I learned last week at church that Jesus spoke to Dick Cain's daughter Sheila.  Years before I had even met Sheila, she was instructed to tell her father to give Benita to me.  She had heard about me from her father and had been following the blog and knew of how I had cared for the old cow through my own compassion.  I am thankful to have had the opportunity to give aid to these beasts. These longhorns certainly appreciate compassion and affection.  The fundamental nature in all living things in God's creation is to seek pleasure and avoid pain.  When I found Benita, she was sickly and had just lost her calf.  My ambition was only to help the old girl and give her a few good last years.  Now I know that she was a gift from God to is Ben.
Philippians 2:3-4
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 62,80,38,0,B,0

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

foto friday


Thursday, October 25, 2012

breakfast buddies

Thanks to the last rains, little yellow flowers are popping up all over the place out here.  One last breath of life before winter sets in.  After 5 years here, I have learned that all signs of life are a gift and welcome change to this parched desert landscape...plants & critters.

Carl had breakfast today with Mr. Floppy.  Two poles to go on the pole barn.  74,89,56,0,B,0

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

...and again

Same as the yesterdays...except with some biped visitors.  The Hoop then the Mahan brothers with Sam Sledge.  Don Mahan (on the right) is the guy I bought my property from.  82,92,58,0,B,0

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


...just like yesterday, except 2 new poles and no longhorns.  80,91,56,0,C,0

Monday, October 22, 2012


Had a big crowd for breakfast this morning.  When they were finished, Dick Cain came out and we herded them SW toward Terlingua Creek.  Yesterday afternoon I managed to tip pole #3 in its' hole without a problem using the high to low method.  Got it concreted in this morning.  Cleared the way for pole #4 and got the fattest/heaviest pole in the hole.  77,90,62,0,B,0

Sunday, October 21, 2012

enabling constraints

Just before I left New York for the desert, I came across an artist named Brett Doar while doing a web search for kinetic sculpture.  I commented on this video (my YouTube channel name is jgizmo) and we became webfriends and still are to this day.  Watching this again after all these years - I am struck by the first thing he said in the video.  (Carl approves!)   I have followed Brett's career and we correspond occasionally to stroke each other's ego.  He now works and teaches in LA and lends his talents to an interesting company called Syyn Labs, building Rube Goldberg machines.  He recently posted this link on his Facebook page.  At 8:20 in the video, Adam Sadowsky via Brett,  introduced me to the term enabling constraints and explains it in relation to their work.  I finally found a good name for something I use on a daily basis.

A further search came up with this quote from Amy Newman
"In our teacher education module, we explored the notion of “enabling constraints. I discovered the term in the book, Engaging Minds. Enabling constraints are about opening possibilities by limiting choices.Very simply put, too much choice is overwhelming. Too little choice is restrictive, squelching learning and creativity. By giving choices in lesson activities and projects within a given structure we are providing enabling constraints."
Enabling constraints are not prescriptive; they don’t dictate what MUST be done, rather they are expansive, indicating what MIGHT be done… from Engaging Minds (2000), Davis, Sumara, Luce-Kapler, p. 193 

When getting started out here in the desert, I had almost unlimited possibilities.  Whenever I am faced with such an opportunity - I look for what I had previously called givens that guide me down a certain path.  An example of this is:  How big do I build my new house?  My chosen constraints were based on budget, the size of dimensional lumber that is commercially available, and my thoughts on the minimum amount of space I needed to live comfortably.  The constraints on my greenhouse were - I wanted to use 4 shipping containers to outline a I arranged them was based on the space available on site and an esoteric design aesthetic that I have embraced over the years.  In everything I do, I look for things I know to guide me down an uncertain path.

God granted mankind free will...then gave his only Son to die for our sins.  He has provided us all with His teachings and prophecies - there for the taking...or not.  In a brilliant move, He did not want to limit our potential by restricting our free choice but decided to was time to give the world a strong hint (an enabling constraint) about which path to take when He sent Jesus Christ to teach the masses and ultimately die on the Cross for all of mankind - past, present, and future.  We are all free to choose but the choices in a physical world with no constraints can be overwhelming and Satan takes full advantage of that.  77,91,57,0,C,0

Saturday, October 20, 2012

grass and friends

Cleaned house and shuffled old hay and Ben poo from the pen out to the compost.  Lots of welcome visitors today.  78,92,55,0,C,0

Friday, October 19, 2012

KRTS Marfa Public Radio

My friend Rachel Osier Lindley from Marfa Public Radio asked me to stop by the station during their fall pledge drive to relate my story about them.  I made it up there today on the last day of the event.  I got a chance to spill my guts on air to my favorite classical midday host Roseland Klein.  I love her show and she is a real sweetheart.  When I first came out here to start building The Field Lab in early December 2007,  KRTS was my lifeline to news and entertainment for 3 months before I got my phone and DSL line...and to this day I still really enjoy their programming.  I dusted myself off (sort of) and came up to the station when they had their first spring pledge drive in 2008 to become a member of the station.  We have all become very good friends since then and I continue to support them.  Made the usual rounds then loaded up on supplies and brought a new chew toy home for Ben.  75,86,57,0,B,0

Thursday, October 18, 2012

gun talk

Welded up corner number 3.

Had a back and forth with a Facebook friend today about guns.  Thanks to the major media, this person was confused about the term assault rifle and how they have no place in target practice or hunting.  This was my response:  Assault rifles are RAPID-FIRE, magazine-fed AUTOMATIC rifles designed for military use. They are NOT AVAILABLE for the general public. My AR-15 is a semi auto...meaning one bullet per trigger pull - great for target practice and I don't "blow my targets apart" with it. It is also a useful home defense tool. AR does NOT stand for Assault Rifle, as is commonly believed. AR stands for the original company that manufactured it, ArmaLite. ArmaLite sold their rights to the AR-10 and AR-15 designs in 1959 to Colt.  74,92,60,0,B,0

Wednesday, October 17, 2012



Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Finished grinding pipe ends then got the second corner welded up.  Just as I finished wire brushing the last weld, more visitors drove up.  The girls arrived with their crew.  Someone I know on Facebook linked to a blog post they did about a visit to Marfa recently and I invited them out next trip this here they are.  Travis, Nikou, Grace, Kelly, Brandi.  Carl asserted his authority with some of them.  Ben just likes to get scratched no matter who it is. 70,78,58,0,C,0

Monday, October 15, 2012


Finished the first halfway done with pipe for the next corner.  Our friend RitaB finally made it out here Sunday afternoon for a meet'n'greet with Ben...and the full TFL tour.  We both really enjoyed meeting her.

My generator is starting to fritz on me.  I'm getting intermittent voltage drops on the output power...engine is running smooth though.  AC drops from 120 to about 28 from time to time.  This problem just started about 2 weeks ago.  Had some trouble with it this morning then it ran fine for 3 hours straight.  It's a Generac GP5000.  Any advice from genexperts out there would be greatly appreciated.  69,78,56,0,C,0

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Mrs. Winchell

When I was in third grade, our teacher Mrs. Winchell would start every school day with the Pledge of Allegiance then The Lord's Prayer.  No one complained.  

My friend Richard Bachmeier sends me via email these  "40 Days of Prayer" leading up to the election.  You can find them here.  Yesterday's prayer for our nation:

Father God, we have removed Your hallowed Name from the door posts of the very universities established to honor You. We have kicked You out of our elementary, middle and high schools and allowed idolatry to infiltrate the hallways that train our children. Your Word says to train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. But we have left our first love and allowed wickedness to reign supreme in our school system. We have taken your Commandments off the walls. We have banned public prayer to you, but allowed other religions to pray to their own gods. We have completely disobeyed the command telling us to have no other gods before You. We ask for Your forgiveness, and that You have mercy upon our children. May they not inherit the blame for our foolish choices. Forgive us for locking You out of the school house, for taking Your Word out of our text books and instead allowing alternate learning to replace our Christian values. Forgive us for not standing up for what we know is the good and the right thing to do. Lord, turn our hearts back to the Bible, back to the Source of all knowledge and wisdom. May our children take on the minds of Christ. May they choose the path that is narrow, even in a world full of ridicule and hatred for Your followers. It is only through Your help that we have even the remote possibility of regaining our schools. We ask that You allow us the opportunity to once again place You first in our schools, that we may bring honor to Your name. Amen.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Recent rains have presented road problems but lots of grass and flowers growing....just in time for Ben's home schooling on grazing.  Lots of clumps thriving so he has figured it out.  Started syphoning water out of the problem spot on the road this afternoon to speed up the drying process.  74,86,61,0,B, .20

Friday, October 12, 2012

surprise rain

That storm snuck up on me.  Late last night we had a nice .46".  My road is puddled up good again in the bad spot but not much more of the road is washed away this time.  Decided it was time to plumb in the other two tanks behind the greenhouse.  Another half inch of rain and they would overflow.  Screwed in a fitting with a valve on the 2 empty tanks.  Transferred about 400 gallons from each of the two tanks that were nearly filled.  Now I got room for more water and the two formerly empty tanks won't move in the wind.  Another line of thunderstorms moved through late this afternoon just in time for the new room in the tanks - got another .22".  May get another blast overnight tonight. 

Here is my cut fix for the pipe.  This worked well with 2 3/8" OD pipe.  First mark a top and bottom on the pipe.  I eyeballed front to back on the pipe but you can get a nice precise mark by laying a length of angle iron on the pipe to line up both ends.  Next I measured back 3/4" from the end and drew lines from near the outside edge to the middle at that 3/4 mark for two straight cuts using my grinder with a cutting wheel.  Made the cuts as vertical into the pipe as possible on both sides and ends of the pipe.  Used a grinding wheel to shape out a rough arch by eye.  69,87,67, .68",B,0