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 In the year 2020

1 May 2020
Power washing

Rosemary was chatting to one of our neighbours before lockdown who said that she had been karchering, now Rosemary hadn't a clue as to what she meant but as ♉Banbury is the home to a ♉Karcher factory perhaps she should have been more savvy. Certainly round us the Spring chorus has to be the sound of the power washer, they can be heard both near and far and as we have reported before, it is ♉   Rosemary's favourite too

Our latest bout of power assisted cleaning though has to come into the category of 'Extreme Power Washing'



  Washer to my window, wand to Rosemary's




25 April 2020

A quick update on the tadpoles. There do seem to be more of them about than I first feared but still many fewer than last year. They are also noticably growing.



24 April 2020
Crow's nest

I've been following activity in my next door neighbour's cherry tree. A pair of crows around their nest! Considering that my room overlooks this tree and that I am spending rather a lot of time there at the moment I have to say that the pics are a bit pathetic and have deteriorated as the spring has brought out the leaves. At first, the crows would just fly away as soon as they heard my window open, now they don't seem to care. Also it is just a bit warmer so I don't care so much either when the window is open. [Kudos to those who do stand up to their waistes in leech infected water and keep still and quiet to get the perfect shot: ♉Warwick, ♉Jane and Roger.]

  my next door neighbour's cherry tree







23 April 2020
Real World Design Challenge RWDC

Latest from sj on her high school's RWDC team's preparation for the national finals.

As I think most of you know, my Real World Design Challenge team won states and is competing (remotely) in the national challenge this weekend.
In preparation for their presentation I invited a bunch of my RWDC alumni (this is our 11th year competing so there are a lot), to watch the presentation and ask questions. 16 of my alumni (ranging in age from the class of 2009, to the class of 2019), answered my call and I just had the most amazing night sitting on a video call with all of them, listening to them grill my students while telling jokes in the chat. It was great because there were kids there that the current team looked up to as underclassmen, and there were kids there that those kids looked up to as underclassmen, etc, etc, all on down the line.

Listening to their banter, seeing all of them, and learning about what they've been up to since they graduated from high school was exactly what I needed in the midst of this crazy, crazy world.


19 April 2020
Bread oven


This is the first time this year that I have used the bread oven. This has not been a deliberate policy its just that my bread making cycle has completely conflicted with the weather cycle. We have had a lot of bread baking unfriendly days since xmas. Had some very nice little oak offcuts that I had been saving for this purpose which produced a long lasting and hot fire. Baked on trays though as the oven bottom was a bit grubby after the fireless winter.

  Nice little oak offcuts burning well.

  Hot from the oven.

17 April 2020
Update from sj on the printer farm

All seven printers are setup and running! I only assembled 1 of the new ones, Mike assembled the other 4. So, so satisfying to see them all in a row and know that they're running 24/7. I usually think that webcams are silly, but I've found the prusa cam to be very pleasant to watch. Looking forward to having them set up in my classroom when things get back to normal, but pretty sure that Mike is going to be heart broken when I take them away from him.

  The printer farm.

And don't forget to look at the prusa cam, printer farm webcam.

12 April 2020
PPE manufacture

  I find this rather mesmeric.

Sj has been very busy re-purposing her school's stock of 3D printers to make PPE for hospitals and components for ventilators. The following post has been gleaned from her emails to me and her FaceBook posts.

3 April at 22:27 · Public

Every wonder what happened to the very, very long (but kind of narrow) tables you built cj? One of them went to live with my friend (and coworker) Mike. It turns out that 3D printers fit perfectly on that table, it's like we planned it that way. So after raiding my engineering lab at the high school, he has set up a printer farm (in a plastic tent - it's basically right out of the movie contagion) and is mass producing PPE for the local hospital. A local organization just donated a bunch more printers to my program, so Mike and I still have 3 more printers to assemble, but eventually the plan is to have all 7 lined up in a row cranking out supplies.

  Every wonder what happened to the very, very long (but kind of narrow) tables.

On Sat, Apr 4, 2020 at 5:55 PM Sarah Leadbeater wrote:

Oh you are in luck cj, Mike managed to get a live feed of the printers after all - so here is the printer farm webcam.

Don't expect to see much during night time on the Eastern Seaboard. They don't put the lights on for the printers overnight, they are quite happy with this. I do know though that sj was apt to leave her lights on for her roomba, just because she is a caring person.

Sj now tells me that mike turns the lights off on purpose, she has given him a hard time about it, but he knows that if he leaves the light on he will check on them if he wakes up in the night and if there is a problem he won't be able to keep himself from getting up to fix it, so it's a mental health decision.

Sj continues:

The NEF posted about the printers they gave us, and it got cross posted to the local facebook group, so I just posted a long message giving people more info on what we're doing. I figured some of you might be interested, so I'm copying and pasting the message here. Work breakdown is mike running and maintaining the printers (he has the best job), me dealing with all the logistics, don is in charge of some assembly and all the delivery.

8 April at 21:34 · Public
Cross posts

I noticed that someone cross posted the NEF's post about our Covid-19 3D printing efforts here. Because there seemed to be a few questions, and facebook won't let me message people who aren't on my friend's list, I thought I'd post a little bit more information for those of you who are interested.

Post from: NEF

NEF supports local high school

7 April at 17:05 · MA, United States · Public posted by NEF

Please help thank our local high school's own hometown heroes!
Three 3D printers that the NEF just purchased could not be delivered to the high school because of the closure. Engineering teacher Sarah and NHS IT Extraordinaires Mike and Don put their heads together and had the printers delivered to Mike's house where they are now helping to save lives. Not only are they making face shields to protect front-line workers, they have partnered with Project C.U.R.E to make ventilator splitters used to increase the number of patients that can be hooked up to a single ventilator.
Please join me in thanking these three amazing individuals!

Sj message:

I'm the engineering teacher at the high school, and as part of my program I maintain a bunch of 3D printers. During a normal school year, my students use these printers to print an array of 3D parts. The printers pretty much run 24/7 during the school week and turn out student projects from robot parts, to flashlight housings, to custom designed birthday presents for their friends. Because the printers are in such demand, the NEF just bought us 3 more machines to expand their availability, these machines arrived just as school got shut down.

Working with Mike and Don (two of the district's IT employees), we got permission from the superintendent to use the department's printers to start making PPE. We raided the high school engineering lab, and sent the printers to live with Mike. He built a tent for them out of plastic (both to regulate the temperature, and to create a clean/controlled space for them to print in). In addition to the 3 printers donated by the NEF we also have 4 other machines that we have pressed into service.

  He built a tent for them out of plastic.

  both to regulate the temperature, and to create a clean/controlled space for them to print in.


We did some research as to what kind of things people are printing and who the best recipients would be for our parts. We identified two entities that we wanted to work with and are dividing our time printing parts for these two groups.

♉Make It Labs: Face Shields

We are working with Make-It Labs, a makerspace in Nashua, NH to produce face shields. They're basically emerging as the local clearing house for 3D printed PPE and are coordinating distribution of finished face shields to local medical entities and first responders in MA and NH. They recently received a huge donation of thick plastic sheeting which they are laser cutting for use as the clear part of the shields. They have volunteers assembling the face shields, so they're just looking for the 3D printed visor parts. They seemed like a good match for us as they are positioned to help the larger community and we can just focus on turning out prints and not have to worry about assembly or distribution. If you are a local group looking to acquire a bunch of 3D printed face shields, I would encourage you to contact them. They have set up a distribution network and are working to get the finished face shields into the hands of everyone who needs them. ♉http://www.makeitlabs.com/covid19








♉Project C.U.R.E: Ventilator Splitters

We're also going to print some ventilator splitters for Project C.U.R.E. This is a more national project to produce parts that can be used to increase the number of patients that can be hooked up to a single ventilator (there are dual and quad splitters). They've basically set up a handful of collection places across the country and are taking care of pushing the design forward and getting it into hospitals. We'd really like to see ventilator splitters getting more widely adopted as it seems like the best bet to increase ventilator capacity in an emergency situation. We figured that that group was in the best place to push that forward nationally (which will eventually benefit us here in New England). We shipped our first box of ventilator splitters to them this morning (40 two way splitters, and 14 quad splitters). ♉https://makersunite.co/





While those are our current production plans, we are open to requests from local entities if there is something specific that they want. We do currently have a stockpile of finished 3D printed shields that we can deliver to anyone who has a need for them, and we are happy to work with local groups to fulfill their specific needs. (We can do both the printing and assembly of shields if needed, though the clear plastic of the face shield that we can provide is not as thick as those that you would get if you were to get the shields directly from makeit labs. As such, while we're happy to send face shields to anyone who needs them, we strongly suggest that people who need a larger number of the shields request them from ♉Make It Labs - we are happy to also give you some of ours in the meantime as a stop-gap measure until you can get the more robust ones.)

Please know that this community is our priority. The nice thing about 3D printers is that we can shift the focus of our production efforts at any time, so if there is a group locally that needs something specific, we are happy to help.

Also for those of you who are just interested in seeing what this crazy operation looks like, here is a gallery of images (we will keep adding to it) and this link gives a 24 hour stop motion of the printer farm in operation, with ghostly guest appearences from Mike. stop motion of the printer farm in operation

Links for this post:
printer farm webcam
gallery of images
stop motion of the printer farm in operation

♉Make It Labs Recipients and suppliers of face shields parts
♉Project C.U.R.E |Recipients and suppliers of ventilator splitters
♉Online Converter did the mp4 to active giff conversions

10 April 2020
The croakers

  Just a few widely spread around.

You may have been wondering why you have heard nothing about the croakers recently, well until today there has been nothing to report other than that the first batch of spawn had just disintegrated with no tadpoles. It got quite badly frostbitten a couple of times and I regretted that I had not moved it to a deeper place. I just thought that the frogs knew best!

Last year we had the first spawn on 14 March and the year before that on 30 March, this year it was 9 March. It was a very mild winter this year so I expect the frogs were seduced to start earlier but then we had a cold spell and they got caught out.

Links below vector to the last post in each year, scroll down to see them all.
♉   theBlog March 28 2020
♉   theBlog March 17 2019
♉   theBlog March 30 2018

  The water snails are also breeding.

3 April 2020

  Pungi stakes.

Went for a constitutional walk this evening, the first time I have been away from the house in three weeks. It sure is eerie with cars in all the drives but no one to be seen and its so quiet. I did see this though:

  Pungi stakes.

Which reminded me of being in ♉   Stoupa last year at 'the restaurant at the end of the universe' but you will have to scroll well down to see what I am on about. I was at university for most of the 60s during the Viet Nam war so not all of you may know what I mean by pungi stakes,♉don't follow the link if you don't want to know, and you probably don't.

Oh and BTW I have just discovered a major problem with the homepage at cribbitDOTnet ... I can't tell the difference between ♉   cuttlefish stifado and ♉   logs to burn but I know which I would rather eat.
Even more logs
Cuttlefish stefado.

1 April 2020
More frogspawn.

Pleased to see another blob of frogspawn this morning. It is much smaller than all the other bits so I nearly missed it.

  A new smaller bit.

31 March 2020
♉   Logs to burn.

So that is all the processable wood processed. What ever am I going to do for the next two weeks of lock down?

Years ago I stayed with friend Pam's family who had a farm. At the time her dad, the original famer, was still living in the family home though his son was now running the farm. One morning dad asked me if I could give him a hand with the chores his son had given him for the week. Of course I was happy to oblige and the old man and I spent a happy morning doing what ever it was. After lunch Pam came to me and said 'Now you've finished off all the chores my poor brother will have to come up with a new set for dad to do, keeping dad busy is the hardest part of running the farm.'

  Newly split logs into the store


  A good clear out of the junk wood pile

29 March 2020
♉   Logs to burn.

  Last years stock pile ready for the saw

This morning I moved all the wood from the side of the workshop onto the lawn and got to work with the chainsaw. The dry old logs made for hard cutting without the usual sap to lubricate the chain. Needed rather frequent tops up with fuel which was beginning to worry me as there would have been no way for me to go out and get more. I was also a bit leary of the fuel anyway as it was last year's and I know that it does not age well.

Some of these logs came from part of a cherry tree that came down last year. When I got to them I found that the centre was completely rotten so no use for turning. This put me in mind of an escapade I had with my Uncle Roy years ago when I was about 35.

It was at the start of the Dutch elm disease infection and one of the magnificent elms in Roy's churchyard had succumbed and the parish council wanted to get it cut down and removed. So Roy volunteered us, knowing that I would be bound to be up for a very large quantity logs.

We fixed a date and duly arrived with chainsaw, trailer and winch. I'd been getting just a bit cocky about tree felling as the last couple I had 'dropped' exactly where I said they would drop so I was pretty sure that I could do the same for this one. Threw a rope into the heavens and connected it to the winch and hauled away pulling the tree in the direction I intended it to go.

Then I cut a small notch in the planned direction of fall, a shallow horizontal cut and then a sloping downward cut to give the trunk space as it comes down. The next cut is from the other side of the tree and this is a much longer and steeper cut heading towards the first cut but leaving the solid part of the trunk to act as a hinge and control the direction of fall.

Well that was the theory. What I hadn't realised was that the tree was completely hollow, so my second cut whizzed into the tree before I coud stop it and there was no substance inside to act as the hinge. The tree came down with a big bang, partly over the church wall, osbstructed the pavement and reached out into the road. Not what had been planned at all!

Then the saw decided that it had terrorised the 'locked down' neigbours enough and refused to start and it started to hail so I've come in for lunch so this will have to be 'continued in our next'.

  Stop for a fill up with petrol

  That's seen off the big ones. Then the saw decided that it had terrorised the 'locked down' neigbours enough and refused to start.

29 March 2020
♉   Logs to burn.

This is the time of year when all my various logpiles get sorted out. Last week I completely cleared 'the house' pile, mostly taken over to ♉   Cribbit and used to keep me warm while working on the refurb there. Now I'm moving most of the 'bottom pile' up to the house and then it will be a chainsaw job to cut up the various large bits I've acquired during the year.

These piles work like FIFO [First In First Out] memory. Logs go in at the top and are extracted for use from the bottom, theoretically this means that the driest logs are used first. I use the term 'logs' rather loosly, I have never really recovered from an American friend falling about laughing at my measly and motley collection of small branches, twigs and reclaimed building materials that I refered to as 'my logpile'. American logpiles are a work of art and filled with logs to be proud of. Well you can see what mine are like below.

  'House' logpile

  'Bottom' logpile

  'Side of workshop' logpile, waiting for a visit from the chainsaw

  'Re-claimed wood' logpile

  The slatted front pulls out as the store is depleted


28 March 2020
More frogspawn.

Had a good look round the pond yeterday and to my surprise and delight found at least three more blobs of frogspawn lurking in its depths. So got out my trusty underwater photography pyrex oven dish and here are the pics!

  The pyrex oven dish floating and waiting for the camera.

  I presume it sunk as soon as it was laid.



  The first lot has started to go squishy, won't be long before there will be tadpoles.


10 March 2020
More overnight.

Pleased to see another blob of frogspawn this morning but no sign of the frogs. Confusing pics until you realise that the first is from the top looking down and the second a close-up from below.

  The view from above.

  The new addition.

9 March 2020
Frog spawn.

Surprised to see frogspawn in the pond this morning, surprised because I had not detected any froggy activity down there and I check it every day. Usually there is a croaking and a splashing, so much so that it has been known to attract the attention of the local cats, but not this year.

Reluctant to make any sweeping statements about this but last year the first batch was discovered on the ♉   14 March 2019 and on the ♉   23 March in 2018. ♉ ♉ I am told that February 2 links this year was the wettest and probably the warmest since records began.


  Frog and other spawn on 9 March.


10 January 2020
South Africa.

Cape Town 25 December 2019.

I spent the xmas season with the tTs in Cape Town and the ♉   markup of my visit is in this link or can be found linked from the ♉   South African pages of the website.

  I arrived on xmas day just in time to drink ♉   'to absent friends' at 1100 gmt, following Tanya's family tradition.

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