a magnet in practice
Friday, December 4 2015
When I set out on my firewood salvaging mission today, I brought something salvaged from somewhere else. It was a cashew-shaped rare-earth magnet salvaged from an old hard drive, and I wanted to see if I could recover a part that had fallen from my chainsaw and been lost in the forest. It was a tiny retaining ring designed to keep the chain-impelling gear from slipping off the motor shaft, and it seemed likely it had fallen into the pile of sawdust I'd generated while cutting through a particularly-thick fallen tree near the stump, the thing I'd been cutting when the retaining washer (which is secured by that retaining ring) fell visibly into that same pile yesterday. I'd still been able to use the saw, but there was now a danger that the chain-impelling gear might also fall off, since it was the next thing on that shaft after the lost washer. But it's thick and the gap available for escape is narrow (and, besides, after they'd been lost, I'd worked without the washer or the retaining ring for a long time with the last version of this same chainsaw). Still, I wanted to retrieve that ring if at all possible. So the first thing I did when I got to the salvaging area was to scrape through the sawdust with the magnet. In seconds, I'd recovered the ring. Usually ideas that work so well in theory don't work quite so well in practice. Still, in today's use of the saw, I didn't depend on that retaining ring or the washer. Instead, I relied on a small screw that I'd tapped in through the plastic chain guard directly towards the hollow center of the motor shaft. This screw should keep me from losing anything from that shaft in the future, especially the all-important chain-impelling gear.
I'd returned to the north end of the Gullies Trail to salvage more wood, but the downed timber was so depeleted in that region that I had to range far down the slope, well beyond where I've ever been from this direction, down to where there is a clear view of the straight brown track of the lower Chamomile as it approaches the bus turnaround (the place where locals like to fire their guns monotonously). There was what appeared to be a nice fallen skeletonized oak, and so I cut up a little shy of 100 pounds of it in four pieces, to which I added a smallish piece previously cut from another tree, making a load that came to 107.1 pounds. But back at the woodshed, two of the pieces from way down the slope proved to have a wet, rotten heart with a few small galleries excavated by Carpenter Ants. Water can enter fallen skeletonized trees if their root-divots are further up the hill than their fallen trunks, and evidently this was what had happened, providing the damp-wood environment necessary for Carpenter Ants.1 Dozens of them were listlessly hibernating in the galleries and came spilling out when I split the still-damp pieces of wood. Only two of those downslope pieces were relatively dry and ant-free and could be taken into the house, giving me an indoor tally of 62.02 pounds and an additional tally of 45.08 pounds that I somehow had to find room for outside near the woodshed. From the appearance of the wood and the fact that it contained any rot at all in its heart, it looked to be Red Oak, not the Chestnut Oak I most prefer.
This evening while Gretchen was out with her refined-flour-abjuring lady friends, I painted a small (four inch by four inch) painting of an octopus swimming in a black ocean. Later, when I went to scan it on the multifunction Hewlett Packard scanner/faxer/printer that I mostly just use as a scanner, the printer's lower hinges broke and the device refused to do anything, complaining that the printer door was open. [I would eventually fix this problem by removing the broken hinges, allowing the printer to be "closed." But of course post-Carly-Fiorina Hewlett Packard would design their printers so that when their hinges failed they would be rendered inoperative. The following picture was eventually scanned with that printer.]
No he's not heiling Hitler.
Many of our friends have problems with Carpenter Ants in the wooden framing of their houses, and they often employ exterminators to deal with the problem. For obvious (though unethical) reasons, these exterminators never bother to tell their customers that Carpenter Ants will quickly leave your house if you eliminate the source of dampness in the wood, which causes many problems beyond providing a habitat suitable for Carpenter Ants.
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