The Perch

Archery on posts

Some challenges resonate strongly within us. Sometimes for reasons even we do not know. It is simply part of our baggage we carry on this crazy train we call life. Sunday, at Archery class during summer camp, we were given a challenge to stand on a short pole or a tall pole and shoot as many arrows as possible without falling off…but only allowed to stand on one foot. Typically, people could stand 30-120 seconds, and the best record so far was only 3 arrows. When my time came, I was happy to play the game, as I have great balance. Everyone else had chosen the low perch, screw that, I went high out of pride and arrogance. Once I got up on the high perch, I’m really not sure what happened, it is like I blacked out in a way. I kicked in my Zen and hyper focused. Time dilated, and I had no sense of its passage. My eyes locked on a 2″ square of tree bark and my muscle memory took over, while my brain balanced. I remember my leg beginning to hurt and kicking in my old pain management mindset from 30 years ago. I was planted, that was my pole, I wasn’t leaving. I drew and shot, drew and shot, never looking down, never checking my nock, calling out which target I would hit next. I remember the instructor harassing me, but I was so tuned out and it didn’t get to me. I remember him sticking my arrows in the ground to my right to force me to contort down to the ground to get my next arrow, but I was in Zen and simply retrieved them pluck and grace. I wore that perch as the master and commander. My leg burned but I Zen-ed thru the pain and the searing, I was *not* going to falter, I was *not* going to fall. Apparently, I began to softly talk to myself. Someone thought I was quoting Lord of the Rings. I gave it my all. At some point the instructor refused to give me more arrows. I realized, I wasn’t going to fall off but if I didn’t get down I would collapse off. I voluntarily conceded my perch, and stepped down to Terra firma again. I ceremoniously bowed to the instructor, limped 15 feet away and collapsed down cross-legged. I began to shake and to cry from the intense emotional experience. I’m not sure why, but I believe it was me challenging me, and in the end I was weighed, measured, and found passing. My mettle is known. I was told I’d been on the post 9 minutes, shot 11 arrows, struck the target 10 times. To me, I had done something beautiful and bad-ass, and this time, there were witnesses.


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Why you should ignore most questions in the HTC Challenge

I like the HFC competition, for my own reasons. However, most forecasters don’t seem to understand the highly punative scoring system imposed upon them. They will cast a question thinking that because they understand the problem domain more than most, they should answer it. That is flat out wrong, worse, the HFC scoring system inadvertantly encourages casters to participate in more questions because the fewer in a question the more points they can earn. Yet, they don’t seem to process that is a double edge sword.

Lets look at the last few questions that were resoved (correctly, I will point out).
Here are the net points the forecasters got as a group

Paraguayan election -187
Syria strike -303
Cuba election -338
Baffin bay St Lawrence ice extent -305

Let me point out for those who think it is a dash, it is not, it is a negative sign. That is *negative* 187 points. As in, the ‘team Prescience’ would have been better off not forecasting it. At all. But there is an algorithm in the back that will heavily weight the forecasts of the high forecasters and ignore the low ones. So I will avoid discussing the entire team avoiding questions, instead lets look at picking the *right* questions.

If you are wanting to get a high score then lets look at some math. For example the Baffin Bay Ice problem. I got the high score…of 0 points. In fact 13 of us did. The low score got -106. So from a game theory perspective, we risked -106 for achieving 0. That is stupidity.

Another question, the Colorado party Paraguyan question. It started out about 80/20. Top score got only 6 points, the worst got -79. What does that tell you? That you need to be about 13x more confident before you enter a question if it is above 80 or below 20. I could make a heuristic here and say you need to take the percentage ratio 80:20=4 and multiply that by 3 (=12x) to get how much more confident you know more about this question than anybody else. That is, if their is very little variance amongst the casts, so if everyone is in the same range, like 80/20, 82/18, 78/22 then there is low variance.

If high uncertainty reigns. And there are 70/30 and 50/50 and 20/80 and other casts all over the place, then you will be able to win more points as the median estimates will be farther off from your estimate. Like with the Material conflicts in Occupied Palestine question. Almost 1/2 the scores were positive and 1/2 negative, so a favorable question to participate in if you have a small advantage with your judgment.

Conclusions – Triage the new questions carefully. Avoid getting into a question for emotional reasons, or because you know more about it than the average dude at a party.
Avoid questions where there seems to be a consensus in the answer. Unless you really, really, know a shitload more than everyone else *and* you can avoid your own hedgehog bias. You have much to lose and little to gain. On the flip side, if there is chaos amongst the casts, then you can enter the fray with a slight advantage.


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Catalan Vault half way done for roof

Oh my, this Catalan vault is quite the project.  I knew it would be labor intensive, but I had no idea the issues I’d have on the corners. Should have stuck with a barrel vault.  Guastavino, I am not.  Overall, there is about a 40-45% rise, so close to a perfect hemisphere of 50%.  Spanning 11 feet with a 4.5 foot rise.

 

Vault halfway done

The scaffolding is up and usable, but needs some plywood decks on it.

Scaffolding a little shaky but safe. The guidework is out of true 10 rows up, I have to fix that this week.

The corners are so labor intensive, 3-4 tiles must be modified for each corner per row.

Tools seen: water sprayer to get the receiving tiles wet. Giant pretzel container that keeps the plaster of paris dry overnight. Blue mixing container for plaster of paris.

Back of the shed with just a stucco cover

I figure 40 more manhours then I have to put on the coping stones around the shed, and then design a glorious Gothic door.

Found a very detailed plan of how catalan vaults were built in Great Britain, including tips and tricks that I really wish I knew before I started. If anyone out there wants to try their hand, follow this advice:

Construction of Catalan Vaults Thesis

Lessons I’ll be applying:

  1. Cover working edge with tarp to keep it moister
  2. With Satillo tile, like AAC, they have to be very damp to get a good bond.
  3. Do 3 courses at once to see the curvature, and because the course below will already be moist

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Honey house walls clad

So this weekend, the mason and I finished the outside walls. 3 of them, actually, as the back wall won’t be clad.

Keystone will be redone. Stone flattened and redone.

Front of house clad, the keystone over the door has carving.

Side with mosaic “ML” for McLaura


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Shed roof making progress

So the roof is up to 6 courses, with 5 having a second ply mortared on.

Roof up to 6 courses, from doorway now has gothic shape.

The corners continued to be a bitch until I realized I need to slope them in faster than the roof walls, because they need to get to the center faster as they have farther to travel.  Hence the nearby tiles are sloped in as I approach each corner. Now that that’s understood, I think I can make faster headway and get a row done and 2plyed in  2.5 hours. So maybe 3 courses a day 2-plyed completed?

The cross beams are going to be floor support for 2nd floor.

 

 

The sawhorse scaffold is now too low. The plan is to put in the rafter storage floor and use that as a scaffold.

 

 

Uphill side of roof shows the 2ply construction

You can see my guides aren’t that great, but I’m keeping a reasonable straight line for the roof sides.


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First section of wattle fence done

I would have preferred to use broad leaf ligustrum as my weavers but I didn’t have the time or money to harvest so frilling many to have a fence made out of them.  Instead I found a guy who had just cleared out a batch of invasive bamboo and had a thousand linear feet or so. I had him trim off the leafy bits and leave me with the straight stalks.  Driving in the posts (juniper that don’t rot in 20 years) took me 6 man hours. Weaving in the wattles took 2 man hours.  Total length that I built is 32 feet.

The poles will be cut level, when I am done.

This is the effect of not having my posts in a good line. Also some poles had a bit of crooked to them.

Lessons learned:

  • Green bamboo is more flexible and better.
  • Once the diameter is over 1″ it becomes hard to weave
  • Make sure your posts are lined up!  Use a tight line to guide you.  I got off a little and it caused some bamboo to break around that pole.

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Honey shed coming along

The shed keeps moving along.

Shed coming along

asdf

Ingenious use of string and weights (outside of shed) that pull up the form. It made it so I could lift up the form slowly without a 2nd persons help.

You can see the form I use to guide to build out the curve of the catalan arch roof.

I’ve also tried making Texas persimmon jam.

Texas Persimmon Jelly


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Another Rainfall Harvesting Tank Installed

So the front orchard is going to need water. I could have just run the irrigation hose to the back tanks, but noooo that would have been easy. Instead I chose to harvest more water off the front of the house where very little water is harvested.  I already have two 55 gallon barrels taking in water on the front, those water the fig tree. They only catch a fraction of the rain from 1200 sq ft of roof surface during a rain. So I put in another rain downspout, and ran it under the sidewalk. The tank is a 330 gallon IBC tote, painted and with a shade cloth to mitigate algae growth.

Downspout then goes under the sidewalk before turning the corner. The trick is that I met the pipes that lead into the house from the City of Austin and couldn’t bury my pipes deep.

The easy way to tunnel under a side walk is using a water hose with water going full blast and shove it under. It erodes out the dirt and I can reach under and pull out the rocks.  Took 20 minutes to dig the trenches on each side of the sidewalk but only took 10 minutes to burrow under.  So the premise is the water will fill up the pipe, go down, then go back up the pipe and fill into the tank because the tank level is lower than the starting downspout level.

The 3″ lines go to the tank and up, the smaller 2″ lines fill the same trench and will go to the swale downslope.

Then it rained a week later, the tank filled up and then overflowed, because I forgot to drill anti siphon holes on the top of the overflow U, the entire tank drained out. But I discovered that at the end of the rain and fixed it, so the tank filled 1/2 full before the end.

The tank has a 3″ inlet pipe and a 2″ outlet overflow pipe. The slope of the side of the house puts the overflow lines at an odd angle because I only had 45 and 90 degree elbows to use.

The front orchard has 8 trees in it: 2 Texas Persimmons (at least 40 years old), 2 jujubes, 2 Pomgranates, and a VDB fig.

The Texas persimmons turn black when ripe. I measured 19% sugar with my refractometer, but they don’t very taste sweet.

The backyard dual tanks of 660 gallons. Overflow goes to the middle swale in the yard.

The Pomegranates and Jujube trees.


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Front yard Orchard status May 1, 2017

Another Spring upon us. The winter was inconsistant with periods of cold and warm, thus most of my fruit trees didn’t get enough chill hours to bloom.

In the front yard, I got a Celeste fig planted near Biff Polywog, our sea dragon.

Celeste Fig and a sea dragon. Fig has a anti-deer cage.

The front yard swale now has 2 Jujube trees (Honey Jar and ?), 2 Pomgranates (a Wonderful and an Eversweet?), some family purple Irises, and soon another Fig from Dad’s place I call a Center White as it is a white fig with closed eye.

Texas Persimmon on left, and on the swale, the Pomegranates and Jujube Trees. Note the anti-deer cages to protect the trees.

Bought a roll of driveway rebar wire to make tomato cages and tree protector cages. It was tough to work with but it does the job.


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Clean dust off a panasonic lx100 camera

The LX 100 camera is great compact 4/3 sensor camera. But it is prone to dust on the sensor which is likely pulled in by suction as it telescopes out.

Taking the camera apart is a chore, but I’ve read someone using a vacuum to apply suction to the lens assembly to pull out dust. Didn’t think much about it, but when I got dust on my sensor after 6 months, well. Had to try.

I turned it on and off twice to get the dust semi-airborne I hoped. Then turned on my vacuum cleaner and using the extension hose, i held it on the front side of the lens assembly then turned the camera off, which collapses the assemble and hopefully exerts positive air pressure. I repeated this 5 times. Then checked the camera using a white background. Poof, dust on sensor gone! Boy, was I surprised. I wanted to make an adaptor out of cardboard between the camera lens and the vacuum, but it wasn’t needed.


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