Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘practice

Future Arrives

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The kids stopped by yesterday for Cyndie’s day of canning pickles and Julian brought along a new commuting vehicle that bridges recreation and transportation. Have you heard of Onewheel?

I suppose it could be compared to a skateboard, but it gives more of an impression of snowboarding… only without the snow.

The device just recently arrived and he wanted to practice riding while wearing his computer bag to get ready for “boarding” (I’m told the term being used is “floating”) to work. He lives and works downtown in Minneapolis, so mastering our hills and uneven terrain would go a long way toward building strength and confidence for the urban surfaces he will more often encounter.

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He started down the driveway.

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Then turned onto one of our rough trails.

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He popped out in the back yard and rolled down the hill.

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Into the woods again.

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Floated through the gazebo beside the labyrinth.

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Along the back pasture fence line and around toward the barn.

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He picked up speed as he reached the weed-covered gravel around the hay shed.

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After that, he turned onto the asphalt driveway again and completed a very successful first attempt at adjusting to the added weight on his back. I think he will do just fine on the streets and sidewalks in the city. With each outing on the board, he will gain strength and skill.

No, I didn’t try it out myself. I’ll stick with two wheels and pedals. However, I am not against the possibility of an ebike somewhere in my future.

All these budding electric-assisted modes of transportation popping up definitely make it feel like the future has arrived.

I’m wondering if I will be able to catch up with it.

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Written by johnwhays

August 26, 2019 at 6:00 am

Watched, Learned

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Last month there was construction on the parking lot at the day-job and I found myself transfixed by the quick and efficient bucket work of a loader. Over and over I watched how the driver scooped up loads from a pile of asphalt debris in a smooth motion.

Last weekend I was able to practice copying what I had seen. I used our diesel tractor to move lime screenings from the pile dumped beside the hay shed, into the paddock to fill rills and washouts on the slopes beneath the overhang.

I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I succeeded in improving my technique.

The last time I tried this exercise, I had a hard time keeping the bucket from digging into the turf and dirt beneath the pile, and I had trouble with spinning my rear tires and scarring the ground beneath the wheels with deep divots.

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Striving to emulate what I had seen weeks earlier, I focused on lifting the bucket through the pile in a single fluid motion, not worrying about trying to get the absolute most material in every scoop. I also practiced sliding the bucket into the pile from a few inches above the base, instead of right at the ground level.

It was easy to come back later and use a hand shovel to reshape the pile and scrape screenings away, down to the grass level.

My improved technique resulted in a lot less fuss for me and a lot less muss to the grounds.

Spring-boarding from that success, I took the tractor out again on Wednesday after work to mow the waterway and fence line along our property border to the south. With a dash of lucky good fortune, I executed maneuvers with minimal hassle to complete the mowing in extremely tight space limitations.

That worked so well, I was done with plenty of time to spare and continued positive momentum that led me to steer my attention to the leaning frame of the gazebo.

It is time to put the shade tarp over the frame, so I figured it best to first look into addressing the two bent top frame members. Ad-libbing a plan, I started taking out bolts to remove one section of bent frame. After multiple trips walking back to the shop for needed tools, I got the piece separated.

That led to another trip to the shop to see if I could figure out a way to bend the square tube back to straight and press out the kinks. My luck held and the first try brought success, just as time was running out for the day.

With my concerns about fixing the top tubes assuaged, I decided it would be most prudent to address the settling that has occurred at the base of the four vertical supports, in order to take away that additional play which allowed the structure to lean in the first place.

It just so happens I have a surplus of pavers that should work very nice in creating a new level footing under each of the four legs of the structure.

That’s one of the main projects on my plan for today. That, and wielding my new loader skills to move a large amount of old compost to make room for new.

There’s nothing like putting new skills to good use.

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Do Over

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Seems like I will be getting some extra practice on trailering loads of hay. Cyndie has been noticing some mold already in the bales we most recently purchased. I noticed that some of the bales we grabbed were a bit heavy, indicating they were approaching problematic moisture content, but turns out even the light ones are high. I’m surprised.

Moisture-Tester-006-620x757George loaned us a hand-held moisture testing probe to give us a numerical reading on our bales. All of them are higher than we’d like, some being over twice the target range. Wet bales will not only grow mold, they can get hot enough to ignite.

The first time I searched for images of a hay shed when trying to decide what we were going to build, I was shocked that the majority of results were pictures of burning buildings. I guess hay fires are a common reason to take photos and post them. Apparently too common.

I’d prefer not to join that club.

We will be purchasing a moisture tester of our own so we can test bales before we buy. Thankfully, the farmer who sold us these assured us he would take any back that weren’t good, as he can feed them to his livestock. He obviously knew these were borderline high for moisture content.

This year it has been difficult to get a span of dry enough days to optimally cut, dry, and bale. It takes about 4 days in a row without rain. We have yet to cut our field, which is part of the reason the weeds have had a chance to flourish as they have.

So, now we get to re-stack a trailer with bales and drive them back to the farm from which we bought them. First, we have a plan today to drive to a different farm to pick up a new batch.

You can bet we will have the borrowed tester along to check the product before loading it up. Practice is helpful, but I’d rather not have it come as a result of doing things over again that we’ve already done once.

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Written by johnwhays

July 23, 2016 at 7:33 am

Wood Speaks

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Sometimes, wood speaks to me, but I don’t always know what it says. I can’t say that I’ve ever heard words from a piece of wood. It’s more of a mysterious attraction to the visual. This piece has me wondering what it would look like smoothed.

DSCN4470eI have envisioned it both completely flat or smoothed with contours. I think contours is going to win, because there’s already too much material missing to sand it flat and still have much of the branch left. The branch is really the key element that makes this special.

Imagine how complicated it can be to stack firewood when every other piece seems to grab my attention for its potential to be beautiful in some form other than burning flames.

Luckily, I receive great pleasure from the visual presentation of stacked firewood, too, so it makes it a little easier for me to leave the split logs on the pile where they belong. That just leaves a chosen few that occasionally get pulled for more permanent duty.

I decided to take a picture of this one for reference, and now having posted here, I guess as incentive. I make no secret of my difficulty with finishing art projects that I start. It’s rather curious that my inspiration to become engaged with this new piece would occur so soon after discovering a handful of others in a box that had sat unopened since we moved here 3 years ago.

Why haven’t I become fixated on finishing the others, instead?

I don’t know. It’s something ripe for analysis, I suppose. I wouldn’t have to dig too deep to discover an issue with perfectionism and a fear of failure, I’m sure. Being unfinished, their imperfections are judged differently. Being unfinished, they still hold the potential to become even more beautiful than they already are.

Or it could simply be that I am wanting to improve my techniques and tooling, and hone my finishing skills to a point I will feel more prepared to take those unfinished pieces the rest of the way to completion, in both aesthetics and function.

Yeah. That’s why I’m starting another new project. It’s for practice. That’s it.

I’ll chronicle the progress for you here, so I have added incentive to actually make progress.

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Written by johnwhays

February 21, 2016 at 9:03 am