Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sugar, Caffeine, & Aspirin

Something drives me to squeeze every second out of my life. Personally, I believe only boring people live long enough. The rest of us die far to young to do everything we'd like to do. With that demon chasing me I hardly sleep. Usually I go full-blast for two-three weeks or so then collapse asleep at the supper table.

I basically survive on sugar, caffeine, and aspirin. Oh, and the daily can of V8 Juice. It sounds unhealthy, but I seem to be doing well, and better yet I get to do so much.

For instance, in the last seven days I did the following:

Went to the Rocky Mountains outside Denver.

Because one can't spend four days straight at the Denver convention center...
meeting fellow oil-people...

And learning about the latest innovations in oil field technology.

Then it was home again to a family that missed me. The shorter days of Fall mean we are entering prime toad-catching season. Miniwether lives for this time of year. Mambowether just likes to make faces at the toads.
She's not licking it.

Saturday found us at the dragon boat races. Luckily the tradition of human sacrifices is no longer a part of this sport event.
Stroke! Stroke! Stroke!

Artistic shot of dragon boats.

The races were cool, but a duck's feather was cooler.

Meanwhile, my solar hot water heater was baking away.
250F, not bad.

All the fallen trees gave me a chance to teach Miniwether about the biology of trees. However this quickly degenerated into burning stuff with a magnifying glass. After burning wood for a while she looked up at me and asked if she could try to burn ants. I swear in must be some sort of genetic trait that flows through every human's DNA!
Burn baby burn!

Sunday found us joining up with Clark and family at the grand opening of a "Nature Area" in a new, local master-planner community. This area can be summed up as "Nature for people who really don't trust Nature". For instance, look at the tree with the sign.
It's made of fiberglass. There are millions of trees down around Houston but they use fake trees at this nature area. The nature trails were paved, the lake was lined with cement.

Oh well, the girls liked the critters.





It's now Sunday night again, season 3 of the new Doctor Who series is playing in the DVD and I'm about to toast up a package of poptarts. Tomorrow morning will be here soon and I'll be needing to solve assorted oily sciency stuffs, teach my girls about the universe, meet with the head of the Equipped to Survive Foundation, and generally burn up my life. Works for me.

Peace be with you.


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Thorian said...

So tell us more about this solar water heater. I'm interested in your construction of that device. What did you use for the chassis. I see some aluminum bubble wrap that looks like it was the insulating layer of one of those sunshades for the car windshield.

Merriwether said...


The main box of the solar oven was a heavy-duty plastic tub I bought at Home Depot (maybe Lowes). The outside was encased with 1" thick styrofoam sheets then covered with duct tape. A wooden frame made of 1"x0.5" slats was bolted to the top of the tub and any gaps between the wood and tub were caulked inside and out with high-temp silicon caulking. The inside of the tub was lined with aluminized "bubble wrap" insulating sheeting, also bought from a big chain store. This works both as another layer of insulation and also as a reflecting surface to hit the flat-black painted metal gas can with more sunlight.

The tub is covered with two sheets of plexiglass held apart slightly with a layer of double-sided tape weatherstripping. The plexiglass sheets are bolted to the wooden frame.

The only way currently to access the interior of the oven is to remove the plexiglass by undoing the bolts. I want to change that to a hinge system at some point.

The black-painted gas can sits on two brackets bolted to the back of the tub. The brackets allow a air to flow completely around the can so as to have a bit more heating effiency. I want to replace the gas can with some flat-black painted "paint cans" for cooking food.

The system gets wicked-hot really fast, but it's rather large and clumbersome.


Merriwether said...

Oh yeah, there's also a later of weatherstripping between the plexiglass and the wooden frame. I wanted to make it a very tight system.


clarktx said...

This event was a pleasant mishmash of "animal infotainment" targeted at children aged 4 to 9. It was as wild and natural as a trip to the Houston Zoo.

I found out about the Bridgeland "Nature Fest" from an REI email of local events. So, I blame REI.

REI isn't perfect. But they didn't do their homework on this one.

Izzy G. said...

Mamboweather is growing up quickly. She's going to be a pretty lady one of these days.

I suggest a gun. Lots of ammo for when that day comes.

Merriwether said...

Way ahead of you, Izzy.
7.62x54mmR - because sometimes you need to shoot through 9" of solid oak to hit your target!

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