Monthly Archives: July 2014

Pomponio State Beach (N37.29 W122.41)

It was hot this weekend, in the 90s, so we decided to go to the only place it is cool in California: the beach!  It was a pretty awesome day for it, in the 60’s and foggy which was just what I was looking for – I’m much more of a cold weather person so this everyday sunny and in the 80’s and 90’s wears on me. (30-35C just FYI)  But the beach was foggy in the morning and a little sunny in the afternoon so I got some swimming in as well in the brisk water. One day I won’t be amused by my tee-shirt, shorts, and sandals while other Californians are in parkas, but that day is not today.

Since the morning weather wasn’t conducive to swimming, we decided to start off with some reading. About 30 minutes into the reading, we noticed a buzzard circling and started to wonder what was up.  A quick search revealed the buzzards desire – a half decomposed seal a dozen feet away; the wind was blowing fast enough that we couldn’t smell it, but decided that it was a good day for a hike instead of hanging out by the seal (No picture included, for which I am certain you are grateful.). We went up and down the beach for about 8 miles and thoroughly enjoyed our time by the water.

The beach was foggy and cliffy and awesome.

The beach was foggy and cliffy and awesome.

It then got slightly less foggy

It then got slightly less foggy.

And there was a lizard! which my phone actually took a good picture of.

And there was a lizard! Which my phone actually took a good picture of.

Blue sky! well some blue which is all you should hope for around here in the summer.

Blue sky! Well, some blue which is all you should hope for around here in the summer.

New Messenger Bag

Four or five years ago, I made Lloyd a messenger bag for work. I used canvas for the outside and put in a tarp lining so that it was waterproof. Since I wanted the seam binding to match, I made some out of the canvas. Shockingly, seven layers of canvas wouldn’t go through my sewing machine (I was using the wrong needle, but it was a new machine back then and I was still figuring it out.), so I sewed the entire thing by hand and it took forever. It turned out well, though.

The first bag.

The first bag.

We hadn't quite figured out the straps at that point. The smaller one never stayed in and we just gave up after a while.

We hadn’t quite figured out the straps at that point. The smaller one never stayed in and we just gave up after a while.

Lloyd really liked the bag and used it every day but, after a few years, it was really starting to fall apart and I had been saying for the past month that it was first on my priority list after I finished family birthday presents. The reasons he needed a new bag are as follows:

Ink stains.

Ink stains.

Lots of attempts at reattaching the straps. The ugly stitching is Lloyd's; it hold very well.

Lots of attempts at reattaching the straps. The ugly stitching is Lloyd’s; it holds very well.

An attempt at an iron-on patch. It sort of worked...

An attempt at an iron-on patch. It sort of worked…

The coolest failure of them all! Apparently, tarp is woven.

The coolest failure of them all! Apparently, tarp is woven.

So I made him a new bag with all of the lessons learned from the first one. First of all, I didn’t use canvas and tarp. We’ve become very attached to the waterproof fabrics from Seattle Fabrics, so I used some fabric that was already waterproof from there, negating the necessity of a lining. I also sewed the flaps for the straps into the bag itself instead of sewing them on afterwards. Most importantly, I used my sewing machine so the project took an afternoon rather than all my free time for two weeks. We also made it a little bigger so he could carry more.

The finished bag.

The finished bag.

Lloyd only cheers for teams with this color scheme.

Lloyd only cheers for teams with this color scheme.

This bag is only a week old, but it’s already been used to transport mackerel (probably a mistake) and taken a trip to the beach. Let’s hope it lasts at least as well as the old one did!

Coyote Lake County Park (N37.07 W121.52)

In the seemingly never ending series of better known county parks, we went on a hike this weekend to Coyote Lake.  It is a little on the dry side of the county by Gilroy, but the weather was going to be cooler – only in the 80s and supposedly partly cloudy – so we thought we would do it while the weather was cooperating as much as possible.

Given our previous lakes allowing powerboats experience, we weren’t too psyched about the park till we got there and were pleasantly surprised.  It was a nice and peaceful hike through the standard dry California wheat and live oak hilly landscape with the obligatory turkeys and deer. Nothing spectacular about the park; no stunning vistas, but everything was pleasant and nice enough. Probably a good spot to take family hikes, not that most families would do our 11 mile circuit…

This is about what you get on the trail, pleasant partial desolation.

This is about what you get on the trail: pleasant partial desolation.

The lake was really blue in the sun.  We were rather happy to be taking a break in the shade.

The lake was really blue in the sun. We were rather happy to be taking a break in the shade.

Cow, I win :) As is often the case on our county park hikes we share the park with some browsing bovine.

Cow, I win. :) As is often the case on our county park hikes, we shared the park with some browsing bovines.

San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)

Following in the wake of World Cup madness, Jasmine and I decided to go to another San Jose Earthquakes game.  They play on the campus of Santa Clara University so it is quite easy for us to go and we have gone to a handful of games over the past two years.  The games are admittedly not quite up to the level of the World Cup, but they are still a fun time to go and watch. The only downside currently is the Earthquakes are quite bad this year; they are the worst in the league, but we cheered them on in the face of another loss anyway.

Not a bad view for $16.  I think the supporters south section is my favorite section.

Not a bad view for $16. I think the Supporters South section is my favorite section.

GOAAAAAAAL!  Making it only 2-1 against the Earthquake which sadly stood till the end

GOAAAAAAAL! Making it only 2-1 against the Earthquakes – which sadly stood till the end.

Cell Phone Stand

Don’t worry, this post is only tangentially related to robots! I do a lot of thesis testing by myself and was sick of the shaky video I was getting. I have access to a laser cutter at school, so I decided to make myself a cell phone stand. I wanted to make the stand flexible so I could take video with the phone either horizontal or vertical. This is the design that I came up with.

Here is the plan I drew up. I based the joints on a jewelry box Lloyd made for me.

Here is the plan I drew up. I based the joints on a jewelry box Lloyd made for me.

The design involved a lot of measuring the dimensions of my phone. I measured the length, width, and height and took all of these into consideration in my planning. Unfortunately, the software we have at school (CorelDraw) couldn’t directly open the file I had saved on my computer at home. When the image was pasted into CorelDraw, the sizing got changed and I had to resize by hand. Of course I didn’t have the measurements in front of me, but I resized it close enough to the correct size to work. Here’s the result.

The stand assembled and ready to use. The glue expanded more than expected, but it doesn't need to be pretty; it just needs to work.

The stand assembled and ready to use. The glue expanded more than expected, but it doesn’t need to be pretty; it just needs to work.

I don’t have any images of the stand in action, but I can definitely say that the video quality improved substantially. No more shaky video!

Banket

In my support of the Dutch World Cup team, I baked some banket, a traditional Dutch pastry, in the hopes of converting my coworkers to the Dutch side. Sadly, the Orange lost but at least I got some almond pastries out of it. In a slight change of pace, I’m just going to show the original recipe from my family cookbook, and hope you will all enjoy.

recipe

The almond filling and dough

The almond filling and dough.

These are the 3 states of rolling up the banket. I would make the dough another inch wider to make crimping the roll easier

These are the 3 states of rolling up the banket. I would make the dough another inch wider to make crimping the roll easier.

All cooked and ready to eat.  I need to learn how to crimp it better to not spill out the filling.

All cooked and ready to eat. I need to learn how to crimp it better to not spill out the filling.

Villa Montalvo State Park (and Hakone Estates)

So this Sunday we went out to another of the Santa Clara County Parks, this time Villa Montalvo. As it turns out, the park was the estate of some early 20th century politician that turned it into a park on his death. The park was mostly a mansion with some sculpture gardens in the fake romantic style. I’m not that much of a fan of the Neoclasiccal style, so I could pass on it and there were only a couple of miles of not overly interesting trails.  I don’t think we will be going back to the park.

The massive mansion. It is not open to go inside.

The massive mansion. It is not open to go inside.

There were some artist residence on site in some really bizarre looking buildings.

There were some artist residences on site in some really bizarre looking buildings.

The view from the boringly named lookout point was rather pretty of San Jose from the west.

The view from the boringly named Lookout Point was rather pretty of San Jose from the west.

In an attempt to salvage a fun day out, we looked around and found another garden – this time a Japanese style garden also built in the early 20th century called Hakone. It was a small estate, but it was rather well laid out and also rather pretty.  I think overall we were rather more of a fan of the Japanese garden, but I can let you decide via the pictures.

A couple of the Japanese Maples were starting to change color a bit.  I think they are confused about the climate around here.

A couple of the Japanese Maples were starting to change color a bit. I think they are confused about the climate around here.

The center of the garden was a beautiful coy pond. Next place I live I'm putting in a pond.

The center of the garden was a beautiful koi pond. Next place, I live I’m putting in a pond.

They had a trellised wisteria walkway next to the main hose.  One again something I am doing at the next house, maybe with grapes or roses depending on the climate.

They had a trellised wisteria walkway next to the main house. One again, something I am doing at the next house, maybe with grapes or roses depending on the climate.

Wire Inlay

For a fair number of the projects I have done in the past year, I have used silver wire in wood inlay for some decoration.  I thought it would be a good idea to share how I do the inlay but, instead of my normal silver wire in a hardwood, I would try bronze in a plywood for some variety.

You will need:

-Metal wire – I like to use annealed silver 0.010″ x 0.040″.  For this project, I cut down some 10 mil strips out of bronze (really C23000 brass but you can’t trust jewelery people to be technical) for the wire.  I have used round wire in the past and this also works; just a word of advice, never use square wire as it is almost imposible to bend without twisting – circles and 2-1 aspect ratio wire at least.

-Gouges- I started off just using an X-acto knife which was OK, then I got a carving set from the art store which was OK, but I just bought a decent set from Woodcraft and it is so nice to use. I love a good tool for the job.

-Needle-nose pliers and a small hammer, nothing fancy here.

-Wood:  You want something with nice color and smallish grains. My favorites are cherry and walnut, both of which look great with silver.  Avoid the pines as they are rather hard to get clean cuts on, but if it is what you want, it will work.  Same with plywood: it works OK but it can chip out as you breakthrough to the different wood layers.

Pretty much all you do is sketch in a design, carve the design out to roughly the width of the wire, bend the wire to fit, cut the wire, press the wire in followed by light hammering, wet the wood, sand down wire to wood level, and finish how you want.  It is pretty simple in theory but requires some light touch and practice in practice.  Well worth it in my opinion.

My practice piece From left to right:  The sketched design, design gouged out, The C press fit in.

My practice piece From left to right: The sketched design, design gouged out, the C press fit in.

After you sketch the design, carve out one section and test a wire.  When it fits take it out and move onto the next one till you are done

After you sketch the design, carve out one section and test a wire. When it fits take it out and move onto the next one till you are done.

After all the pieces are done put them all back in.  Tap down with a hammer and water lightly.

After all the pieces are done, put them all back in. Tap down with a hammer and water lightly.

Not usually a stape but after I filed down most of the metal the chiped out pieces of plywood were bothering me so I filled them in with superglue and wood dust.  Then I kept sanding.

The finished product, I only used mineral oil as the finish. Not much contract between the wood and bronze, and the glued in wood dust looks a little funny, but I like it.

The finished product; I used mineral oil as the finish. Not much contrast between the wood and bronze, and the glued in wood dust looks a little funny, but I like it.