Fall is upon us, Indian Summer is past

We had an extended Indian Summer this year, pleasant temperatures and little rain through much of October, but the last several days foretold the coming of Fall; whilst still not raining, it had become overcast and brisk, with my fingers getting chilled even with gloves if I spent time working outside.

And today, the rains are upon us.

Makes me glad I spent time yesterday dealing with the pile of Blackberry & Clematis clippings created during the first foray into yard work, back in August. Four yard debris containers later, the two piles which were mixed Blackberry, Clematis, and Rosemary were all gone, except the larger hunks of Rosemary, which I'm still looking at in re uses for the wood; at the least I'm planning on keeping the large diameter sections, so I think it will only take one yard debris container to deal with the to-be-clipped sections of Rosemary.

After that I still face four piles, to wit: 1) Blackberry, Clematis, and some unknown tree, said pile located in the NE corner of the lot. 2) Apple & Walnut clippings, located just south of central in the main yard. 3) Pile of Blackberry and another unknown tree, against the south fence in the area south of the building. 4) Mondo pile of Blackberry, wild pea, and the second unknown tree, all in the off-ground frame I made to prevent anything from rooting.

The first unknown tree has big spiky thorns, up to 3" long, sticking out of the main trunks, like the stereo-typical spikes on a bead of nails; nasty! And they are rigid, not wimpy.

The second unknown tree has an Oak-like bark, in that it has all these canyon-like fissures running the length of the trunk, starting out as mild surface patterning on the twigs and growing deeper as the wood thickens. The color doesn't match my recollection of Oak trees growing up in Salem, OR, in that it's more orangish, drying to an off yellow in the younger sections after being cut, the larger sections to a steel grey/green. Um, thinking about it, this may be two related species, as there are three trees, one in the main yard NW corner, two in the south extension along the fence, and the yellow/orange clippings are from the second area, with the grey/green from the first, and the striations differ between two, yellow/orange having more Oak-like depth... Except I think they show both together? Aughh! "Memory is the second thing to go." "What is the first?" "I forgot."

I should take good pictures and go to the library to research these trees, well, the 2nd two varieties, the first unknown, the one with the spikes, that got clear-cut, the other two merely pruned to my satisfaction. Be nice to know what they are, the wood for the handle came from one of them.

Ooh! Ooh! The rain has stopped, it's getting brighter out! Time to take the mid-day meds and see if I'll be up to going shopping in a bit! At the least I want to make it to Trader Joe's, I have decided that a slight increase in Kidney Stones is an acceptable cost for increased functioning via Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans, being a stimulant that does work with me, and a means of controlled dosage. I really wish the meth-heads hadn't forced them to ban pseudoephedrine, that stuff dealt with allergies and contained the prime anti-narcoleptic stimulant, combined with Ritalin and Adderall it kept me functioning half-way decently; not well enough to be off disability, but well enough to regularly go shopping as my reaction time was dependably prompt.

So. Meds. Wash my hair. See about obtaining CCEB.

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It works! Da handle is Da Man!

So, anyway, spent some time today looking for things to eradicate, and found some more Blackberry and Clematis; every time I tell myself I've beaten the Clematis more hops out saying, "No you haven't! We're still here! Hey, get away with that implement of destruction!" and various other pithy comments whilst I endeavour to remove the evidence of Clematis survival.

Clematis just isn't very smart, taunting me and thinking I'll leave them alone.

The Blackberries, on the other hand, haven't really tried to fool me, I'm still dealing with stuff that was around earlier and I just wasn't quite up to dealing with at the time, stuff that I trimmed down fairly close to the ground but knew I'd be back to deal with later, say after it rained, when the ground would cooperate. Which is what I've been doing.

And as the heading for today's missive states, the new handle I made yesterday for my root cutter, it works. No slippage, no tool trying to elude my grasp, no, instead very rapid cutting through roots, as advertised. Yeah!

Also spent some time lugging branches into the basement for storage until I come up with projects to use them. Kinda funky with the Walnut, I've three or four branches which have matching curves, not all the same length but to scale, I can see a sofa in my future, Walnut with Apple rungs, even have branches shaped properly for arm rests at each end. It'll be a fun challenge. Of course, where I'd put it when finished does not bear contemplating at this time.

That's the burbling for today.

And I'm being good; I'm not ranting about the idiocy of Bill Sizemore and Kevin Mannix, two of Oregon's top idiots in regard to misuse of the Oregon Initiative Petition system.

Um, why yes, that was a mini-rant, and I filled out my mail-in ballot today, how'd ya guess?

And to prevent any further, I'll just

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I can handle this... the replacement handle is made!

Clearly I need to take these over again with a better contrast background.

Old handle above new handle; the new handle is a tad shorter, due to the shape of the tree branch I was working with, but also due to the shape of the branch it fits my hand much better. From this view, given better contrast, you can see a slight ) shape, with the handle continuing a slightly flattened curve from the blade.

View with blade facing toward me

View with blade facing away from me; the s-curve shape to the handle is subtle

To the left the new blade cover, then the blade with new handle, followed by the original handle and sheath.

I'm not sure what kind of wood I used, I haven't succeeded in ID'ing the tree; it wasn't one of our apple trees, nor the Walnut. Its one of the unknown volunteers, which has been de-volunteered with extreme prejudice. It might be a variety of Oak, the bark has that type of pattern to it, which really helps in regard to holding onto it and not having it slide out of my hand in use.

Initially I thought I was talking big in yesterday's blog entry, about how I could whip this off in nothing flat today, but I wasn't. Except for attaching the blade, I had this done by 8:30AM, starting a bit after 7:00.

First step was evening up the ends, for which I used my TopMan Japanese Saw Double-Edge Cross and Rip Cut, Harbor Freight item 92599, purchased around seven years ago, my first pull-saw. [Product no longer available from Harbor Freight 2017 09 15][Technically, a Ryoba. 両刃. Searching "Ryoba Saw" will pull up many sellers of different models]

The initial pass on narrowing down the end for the ferrule was done using the Shinto SR-30 Saw-Rasp, purchased from Garrett Wade in the same order as the root cutter; hadn't expected to use it quite this soon, but this is the type of thing I purchased it for. [No longer available from Garrett Wade; search for "Shinto Saw Rasp" to find other sellers]

After I got within range of the proper shape/diameter on the end I shifted to my Dremel, using a sanding wheel to finish shaping the end for the ferrule.

So far, easy-peasy. Now for a trickier bit, cutting the slot for the tang of the blade. Back onto the back porch with the pull-saw, clamp the hunk of handle-esque tree branch onto the railing using my left hand, and start cutting with the saw in my right, deliberately wobbling it a bit to widen the kerf sufficiently for the tang to fit. Well, that was the theory, I had to switch to a wider blade later on to get it wide enough for the tang.

Taking the old handle off turned out to be much easier than I had expected it to be. I used my trusty Stanley Yankee Handyman No 46, a lovely push/pull drill which they no longer manufacture, although you can buy a very good replica of their upper end model from Garrett Wade, their Yankee Push Drill, (Item 69P01.01), Chromed Brass rather than the plastic, aluminium and steel of the No 46... Now where was I? Oh yes, I drilled a hole in the old handle from the side opposite the nail that held the tang in place, got it in one try, then tapped the nail out, grabbed my vise-grips and wiggled the blade out of the handle, shifted it to the new handle, tried to wiggle it on, re-sawed the slot, wiggled it on, held it firmly while using a deadblow hammer to tap the bottom of the handle the final bit to get it fully seated, and then tried to locate the hole in the tang...

Tried is the operative word. After several wrong guestimates as to where the hole in the tang was located, I shifted back to the Dremel, grabbed a carbide drill bit of appropriate size, and drilled a new hole; I presume I drilled a new hole, I could have suddenly found the old hole for all I know, wasn't taking it apart to check now was I? No, not checking, Mrs. Mead didn't raise that stupid a son.

The nail from the old handle wouldn't work with the size hole I created, so I grabbed a left-over steel rod from a pop-rivet, tapped it through, got it to bend a bit inside the handle to lock it into place, used a hacksaw to cut off the ends of the rod, and voila! New handle made and in place, total time approximately 2 hours.

I'll be 48 in December, I'll be using this tool many years from now. It has a really great blade, and now has a handle, custom fit to my hand, made from wood from my own yard. I'm a happy camper.

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Edit 2017 09 15: Removed links to no longer available products. Changed links to merchant main page and added item IDs to minimize link rot. Added search term advice for finding other merchants.


These roots are made for cutting...

Garrett Wade calls this a "Japanese Short-Bladed Root Cutter"; I call it well worth buying! Does a very nice job cutting through 2" Blackberry roots.

OK, it does have one problem. The handle is lousy. Can't hold on to it for beans. Especially if wearing gloves. Too small around, too smooth; nothing to hold onto to prevent it from getting yanked out of your hand. No problem, my next project is a new handle, got a section of branch just the right length and diameter, nice curve to it so it fits well in my hand, nice semi-rough bark, just need to shave down the end to fit the ferrule properly and slice a notch for the tang, should be able to get it done tomorrow.

Already made a sheath for it, the plastic thing it comes with is fine for hanging in a store but wouldn't hold up to everyday use, served as a place to start in making a pattern. Did a proper sheath, including the in-between layer of leather so that the saw blade rests on leather and can't slice any stitches or tangle with nails; thinking I'll use clinch nails to reinforce the sheath, currently it's just held together with Elmer's Glue-All. Sure, I could use my Dremel to drill holes for stitches, but that'd be a pain compared to clinch nails.

Clinch nails, it you are not familiar with them, are ball-headed nails, short like brads, which basically have on side shaved off at an angle. You use them to attach soles to boots, things like that, by hammering them through your leather into an anvil; when they hit the anvil the point curls up along the shaved angle, effectively creating a rivet-like fastener. You can buy them in various lengths depending upon how thick the leather is that you are fastening together. Ideally you will size them such that they curl up inside the leather, not actually projecting out the far side, that way they grip the leather better and don't wear away from walking on concrete or rocks or whatever until the leather is already needing replacing. I've used them a couple of times, and have yet to size them properly; another example of my being fine on theory and a disaster in practice. This boy really needs to cultivate patience, and take the time to buy the proper tools instead of trying to hastily make due when working on something that is meant to last a while.

But like I said, the blade itself is good. Despite the difficulty holding onto the haft, cut through 2" blackberry root in a matter of minutes, with a better handle it would have gone much faster. Also did a good job working Clematis loose from against a concrete wall, slipped around the roots and loosened them up so I could pull the puppy out without breaking anything off.

Whoa. Evening meds just hit, getting woozy and time for bed.

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Good weather for blackberry eradication

Hasn't rained the last couple of days, so the grass is dry, but the soil is still nice and damp.

Perfect for going out and routing blackberries. OK, not quite perfect, perfect would be damp and warm soil, not damp and cold soil. But as things go, pretty darn good for grubbing around in the dirt, dragging up blackberry roots so they don't grow back.

Did this along the south side of the building, the not-quite-penultimate holdout of blackberry bramble; now to deal with the scraggly bits along the south fence, gonna have to move the pile-o-tires to do that, think the tires are left over from either potatoes or tomatoes, haven't been used in ten years, probably need to find a home for them somewhere along the line. And then the scraggly bits along the north fence. After that, well, the only berries left will be wanted berries, need to build new trellii for them. Yes, trellii. Singular Trellis, Plural Trellii, and we have both blackcap and red raspberries at different sections of the yard, so trellii it is. Tra-la, tra-la.

Sorry, couldn't resist. Actually went back to add the tra-las, sprang to mind whilst rereading prior to posting.

Seven remnant Clematii running around, the two next to the north fence are growing rapid-like, the others not-so, fairly soon I'll take more pictures and then remove the six on our property, the seventh, the one growing the best, is growing on the other side of the property line, so permission should be sought prior to eradication.

Limb remnants from pruning are going away fairly rapidly, another two or three yard debris pick-ups should do them, then the stuff to the south of the building will go, that will probably take a couple more, so by the end of the year all trace of The Bramble That Ate Brooklyn should be gone. For those who don't know, I live in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Portland; I blame my accent on that. Mind, my accent doesn't match any locale I've ever lived, and changes as the mood strikes it, but do they know that?

Still dealing with bouts of depression since they approved my disability, I see my psychiatrist on Monday, hopefully we can get a handle on this.

Enough. I've demonstrated I'm still alive, and getting some stuff done.

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It seems like I have not-so-much body fat these days, and an internal thermostat that doesn't work so good, as well as an imprecise thermostat for the baseboard heaters.

I'm either shivering, or sweating. Trying to adjust apartment temperature and layers is a trick.

Do need to replace the old thermostat with a digital programmable one, the current jobby is from 1976 and one of those turn-a-knob things with no precise gradations.

Not a happy camper.


Clematis Observation Project Begun

Today, while taking a break from other activities, I wandered around checking for nasties growing in the yard, just for reference sake as I didn't have the Hori-Hori knife on me, and found three Clematis that hadn't been there Friday.

I marked their locations by stabbing Apple prunings in the ground near by, so as not to misplace them, and then went and got my

[wait for it]

[hope this is far enough to have been off-screen!]
camera to record current growth, as I plan on leaving them alone for a bit so I can chart their growth; how fast does Clematis grow being a relevant question, and this gives me three to observe in somewhat different settings.

Might even try to time-lapse the photos, presuming I stand close enough to the same positions.

Oh, and on pruning, welding gloves aren't particularly good when trying for any kind of delicate work.

On an entirely different topic, I'm investigating duplex sheet feed scanners, in addition to my previous interest in tablet input systems. The cost is way down since I worked at OHS, I suspect this is revolutionizing document preservation and management big-time, being able to purchase 50 sheet feed duplex scanners rated for 1000 copies per day for under $500.00, including top-notch software.


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Gloves ordered

Yep, wandered over to Garrett Wade, they have some gloves that look pretty good for this kind of activity; actually, two types of gloves, not sure which is better for using with saws and which for blackberries, so I ordered one pair each; cost is not a concern when dealing with a clumsy oaf and his hands, ya dig? [Garrett Wade glove selection has changed, still looks good. 2017 09 15]

Hopefully this'll be the last you hear of my cutting myself with sharp tools or prickly plants.

Speaking of which, one should always wear pants, not shorts, when removing blackberries, as documented by this photo from back in August...

Like I've mentioned before, I'm an idiot. And yes, I'm wearing sandals as well as shorts while fighting blackberries.

idiot idiot idiot, three times I name myself Idiot!

Next post will probably have some comparison photos, pre-Apple Pruning and post, and ditto in some ways in re blackberries, just to make clear just what got accomplished. It blows my mind, but then I'm clearly A Bear Of Little Brain.

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Edit 2017 09 15: Changed Garrett Wade link to match current url, removed link to specific product no longer carried.


A Message from Gen. Incompetence


"Maj. Stupidity was scheduled to give this talk, but he wasn't dumb enough.'

'First, let's sing our regimental song, dedicated to those gems of brilliance, the 2nd Lieutenants!'

All join in singing 'Louie Louie', extra credit for using the words generated by the FBI prior to the words being printed on the jacket liners.

'Excellent, none of you sang in the same key; you are a credit to the Corps!'

'My talk today is on safety, but first, march in review over that nearby suspension bridge; remember, KEEP IN STEP!'

Transcript ends following sounds of bridge vibrating apart as resonance frequency is reached...

Safety. I've previously mentioned saws, and gloves, and fingers, and the lovely things that happen with a bad mix of the above. Writing this is taking a bit more effort than normal, as I have bandages on three fingers and thumb of my right hand.

So, no bleep, there I was, working on trimming twigs, etc., off the branches I'd removed from the Apple trees yesterday...

You only think you see what's coming, remember, Maj. Stupidity was too smart to give this talk...

Left hand is holding pruning saw, with lots of nasty sharp jagged teeth. Right hand is holding pull saw, used to cut thinner stock. Right hand brushes freshly cut branch to the left...

No, still not there, this is dumber still, Maj. Stupidity is too smart for this.

I'm wearing bicycling gloves. Bob Cratchet style bicycling gloves, the kind with no finger tips. The better to control what I'm doing while keeping my hands warm, as its wet outside...

I've no idea whatsoever how I avoided slicing my right index finger. But three knuckles and the ball of my thumb slid ever so smoothly along the pruning saw, thankfully not much pressure involved, small miracles happen.

I'm going to order proper safety gloves today.

Man, Gen. Incompetence may be too smart for this, I might be a 2nd Louie...

sound effect heard in the distance, a 'rim-shot'


Internet Resources I didn't know about, second in an ongoing series

So there I was, searching the Web for materials on Sewing Machine Maintenance, and lo and behold an ERIC document came up as a hit. "Huh," I went, "haven't thought about ERIC in years, wonder what this links to?"

If you followed the link, you found out, as I did, that it links to ED183837 - Military Curricula for Vocational & Technical Education. Sewing Machine Maintenance, 18-3; snappy title, what? And, get this, that had a link to the full text of said document. All 110 pages of it.

Mostly. A link to a PDF image of a microform document, which hadn't been well cared for, and it is very clear that they didn't clean the fiche and the fiche scanner properly either before or during the scan process. And the fiche wasn't COM [Computer Output Microform], it was made by photographing an already extant document, which was missing some pages [but nothing crucial, as the notes made by the folks producing the microfiche took care to note].

Think of it as a multi-generation photocopy of a training manual. With cruft. See the entry for cruft in the Jargon File, if not familiar with cruft. [If not familiar with the Jargon File, be ready to lose the next several hours as it grabs you and educates you while making you howl with laughter. The Jargon File is worthy of its own blog entry.]

But the nifty thing is that they're trying to make all the old ERIC documents available online, for free. No charges for accessing the things, none of this IEEE bait-and-switch abstract looks good but I got to pay umpteen bazillion dollars to find out if it really is what I'm looking for, no refund if it's not, same with ANSI and the other standards folks, hrmph!

Something being in ERIC doesn't make it public domain, but it does grant pre-DMCA fair use, the type beloved by librarians and researchers the world over. The idea behind ERIC was to create a repository for materials relating to science and education, with copies at all GovDoc depositories, so that the free flow of information relating to research, etc., not be impeded; just look at the name: Education Resources Information Center, ERIC. [Hmph. They changed the name. Now it's Institute of Education Sciences. Bunch of bloody revisionists. And to me that is a misleading name, makes you think it's some kind of school. Hmm, text of the bookmark is still the old name, guess they've just added it to the website as a sub-heading to the acronym; still misleading. 2017 09 15] It got a real boost when various tenure assessment programs decided ERIC Documents counted towards tenure; instead of paying to be included in some specialized journal which would be printed on the cheapest paper available, and cost your University Library as much as three staff members to obtain, ERIC would accept it and distributed it to all the major universities for you, on archival microform. Another boost was that being included in ERIC established copyright in a firm and tangible fashion, so even if you planned on submitting the snazzy write-up to The Journal of ... for proper peer-review and kudos, you'd send the initial write-up to ERIC to establish it as your work, so it was then safe to give talks about it at conferences prior to it appearing in said august journal.

Ignore the past-tense, ERIC is alive and growing, and has made the switch-over to the Internet with flying colors.

Check them out. Who knows, you might decide to submit something to them, yourself.

That's a wrap.

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Edit 2017 09 15: Added commentary on name changes at ERIC website. No link rot!


Clematis: Terrorist of the Botanical World

Yes, I say 'Terrorist!' Western White Clematis, when it has a choice between living on its own, or intertwining its rootstock with another's, will invariably choose to intermingle. 'Why, that's just being sociable,' you say, 'where's the terrorism in that?'

Collateral damage. By placing themselves as they do, it is not possible to remove them without endangering innocent plants, breaking branches and stems, straining, unearthing, destroying root structures. Just so do terrorists place themselves amongst the innocents of their own countries, that those whose righteous wrath is directed at them will hesitate to strike, for fear of injuring and alienating those who are deserving of their nurture, who are in their care. And at the same time they entwine themselves in the lives of these innocents, pulling them towards those who are in truth their enemies, cozening them with honeyed words until they clasp them to their bosoms and drink their poisoned lies, becoming twisted and stunted as that which is good is drawn away to serve the evil ones.

So does Clematis, rooting itself amongst others, entwining itself around them and using them to lift itself toward the stars themselves, stealing their light, strangling their limbs, and eventually obtaining their very deaths, all to the Greater Glory of Clematis! The gardener must harden their heart and act early, whilst Clematis' roots are yet shallow, whilst the least damage is done to those it would entangle with fine tendrils whose strength is as iron itself. The gardener must embrace the Greater Truth that Clematis will inevitably do far greater damage to these innocent plants than the gardener can possibly cause whilst battling Clematis, that the better part of valour is to strike early and decisively whilst the invader is still weak.

This requires diligence on the gardener's part, an ever-watchful eye, never relenting, for while Clematis spreads best via vine and root, yet still some seeds do fall on fertile ground and it spring up where it dwelt not before.

And the dread knowledge that there may be times when a mistake is made, where something superficially similar to Clematis at a stage in its growth will be seen as Clematis and be rent from the ground, only to then realize their error and weep bitter tears of remorse, knowing that naught they might do will bring back the innocent destroyed in error.

Such is the Evil that is Clematis.