heats you twice
Sunday, October 22 2006
There's a seasonal chill in the house and, with the boiler still off, little can be done about it but starting a fire in the woodstove. Unfortunately, this has little effect on the laboratory, which in this season is heated mostly by the waste heat of computers. (At this time of year I tend to do tinkering that requires multiple computers.) This afternoon the laboratory was too cold for sedentary work, so I went out to the garage for awhile to warm up my core temperature with some good healthy exercise. I had plenty to do out there; there's lots of gathered wood in need of cutting and splitting. As my father has said, referring to the exercise required to work with it, "wood heats you twice." (This was especially so back when I was a kid, when we felled and gathered firewood almost entirely with hand tools. We did sometimes use a truck to haul it short distances.)
The pieces of wood I split today were mostly segments of large ash trees I'd salvaged from beside the Bear's dumpster in Bearsville. I used large logging wedges, which I drove with brutal blows of a sledge hammer. I also did some chain sawing with the 120 volt chain saw. Coming from a childhood where wood was only cut with crosscut saws, I'm still delighted with how fast it tears through even thick logs. At this point the only limitation to the firewood I can salvage is that it has to be small enough for me to transport home, either in the back of the Honda Civic or dragged out of the nearby woods. As I learned with my various bluestone projects, I can maneuver surprisingly heavy objects, but long, heavy pieces of wood tend to be too unwieldy to fit in a car. I'm still tempted to get a cheap gasoline-powered chainsaw so I can gather downed trees in highway right-of-ways. If only they weren't so damn loud.
In other project-related news, I've been experimenting more with AVR Atmega processors. At this point I'm able to load Arduino bootloaders onto Atmega168s and I know enough about fuse bits to fix their defaults and make them run at the correct speed in the Arduino world. Unfortunately, though, today I was a bit cavalier with the setting of fuse bits and I accidentally turned off the JTAG capabilities of my only Atmega32, rendering it suddenly as useful as a thorny chip of ceramic. It would be possible to re-enable the JTAG connection, but this would require an expensive high-voltage programmer, precisely the kind of equipment that kept me away from microcontrollers for the majority of my life. If anyone has a use for an Atmega32 that can only be programmed in parallel-port programmer, it's yours.
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