Picking Nits

We're enjoying cocktails in the Quail Manor pergola. Which, I've said before and I'll say again, is freaking awesome. Be better when some of the strategically placed trees fill in and block some low angle late afternoon sun, but still pretty freaking awesome. So, we're enjoying cocktails.

Ann remarks, in all seriousness, "too bad there can't be some clouds so we can get a more colorful sunset". Now the sunset we're looking at, past a bit of not too scenic barrio, is a perfectly fine sunset. For a crystal clear sky, 75 degrees F whenever it is the sun goes down, in early February for goodness sake. Nice blues and pinks. Been perfectly happy with pretty much the same sunset since AFS got here from 10 degree F and overcast Rochester, NY. But not like some of the brilliant things we get when there are some clouds.

We have risen far enough up Maslows Hierarchy that now we need a little cloud cover just in time to optimize the sunset from a 7 closer to a 10.

Picking Nits.

The Sisters and I took in the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show on Thursday after helping David wrestle the wire mesh around the cistern .

I'm dumping a bunch of muses all at once since I have some content. And, since there has been a dearth of muses for awhile, many readers may be catching up. The cistern words are in the muse right after this one in sort order, but before this one in chronological order about the hot water emergency.

The Gem Show is apparently the largest in the world and Tucson's claim to fame. Other than being the home of the Quail Manor of course. Been hearing about it since we came last year. Well, we can now report it is a BFD. Where B stands for Big and D for Deal. You can figure out the rest.

There are huge white tents. There are entire crappy hotels booked with tables and pallets of rocks in front of each room and in the parking lots. All this stuff is spread all over town. At least all over the parts of town that aren't fancy gated communities up north. Those people treck once a year into our part of town to buy their fill of gems and minerals and jewelry. 

Ann walked us over there. Those of you who know Ann know she is a geologist. The gem show is like a dream come true. After a couple of hours, Mimi and I had to pull her away. We'd seen all the raw gems and related rocks we could stand. Each tent had a gravitational pull for SWITBO...

We seem to be the southern terminus of the show. As we worked north the wares displayed got more finished and the general class of vendor seemed to improve. There was an area in the Convention Center that seemed to be reserved for professionals. You had to have a pass. We understand there are plenty of shops where good stuff lives that are invitation only. 

Apparently you can buy raw material to make stuff. Huge and small geodes and related curiosities. All the way up to finished bobbles. We particularly enjoyed quite a concentration of new-age displays. We now "know" that jade can grow bosoms, at least according to me. There was some kind of claim about it causing things to enlarge. I just extended that to a necklace. You get the idea.

My favorite were the new-age hipsters. Closer to hippie maybe.





Being all too cool for school and counter. Talking on their smart phones...

Meanwhile. Javelina fortifications evolve. Nonengineers fuss when they have to read interesting muses about interesting engineering things. So if you are one of THOSE people, skip this portion. 

We mounted the springs to automatically close the gates. The dilemma is to get enough action to reliably close the gate, we also get one hell of a slam. Repeated slams are not going to do the jam bolted to the Quail Manor and the underlying stucco any good at all. And then, the spring is no where near strong enough to repel a determined javelina. There appear to be several interrelated issues at play:

  • The low tech hinges, while satisfyingly cheap, are by no stretch low friction. They need a good bit of force to get 'em moving.
  • The coiled spring that is supposed to close the gate, while satisfyingly cheap, can not be installed along an appropriate axis so they work as hoped. 
  • There is no dampening to softly close the gate once it gets moving in the design at all.
  • The gates swing IN. You push on them from outside and they open. At some point, this seemed like a good idea. In retrospect, if they had opened OUT, when something like say a javelina, pushed on the gate to get in, the pushing itself would hold the gate closed.
    • Sadly, AFS noted this design flaw immediately upon seeing the gate for the first time. Just like she did the flat plane projection of the roof discussed in the where's the damn rain go'n muse. Demonstrating again that really smart may trump what I believed to be the inherent superiority of engineers. Rethinking that premise is just too much to contemplate.

A rethink of the gate design though, is in order. I start looking at pneumatic door closers like on a screen door. A not particularly fertile area. We start thinking something like the doors and drawer closers and dampeners on the IKEA kitchen. I start Googleing and things look up. At some point something prompts me to think, swimming pools have gates that close automatically. In this case young children are assuming the role played by javelina's in our story. I've struck the motherlode.

Check out these hinges:

  • They hinge.
  • They close automatically.
  • They dampen to soft close.
  • They look awesome.
  • They cost $300 EACH. 5 gates * 2 hinges/gate * 300 $/hinge ... you do the math!

Continued research indicates the same company makes a cheaper alternative without the dampening but at a way better price point.

And they make a lockable latch to hold the gate closed also at a (barely) reasonable price point.

So armed with all these new discoveries, our design for each of the 5 gates has evolved to:

  • 2 relatively inexpensive but zero friction barrel hinges. Note the "zerk fittings" so the hinges can be greased.
  • 1 more expensive but not ridiculous TruClose hinge to serve as a third hinge and autoclose.
  • 1 expensive but not quite ridiculous LokkLatch Magnetic latch

We forgo dampening since the near frictionless hinges together with a latch require way less spring loading.

Our first barrel hinge gate has been installed in the arbor fence between the Quail Manor and DnT's with great success. Now we move on to testing and refining the remaining components.

End of ENGINEERING segment.

For the swimming pool advocates. We were invited to and attended, and survived, our first barrio party. The woman across the street who has the swimming pool had her grew-up with buddies in town. Two of them live in Fort Collins so she invited us. I'm pretty sure we are their parents age, so we did our best to be chill and left early. 

Turns out she and her boyfriend are both excellent cooks. The grew-up with friends also did a great job, so the food was at or near Sweetie standards!

I can't remember if I have mentioned it before. On our very first trip down on our very first afternoon, I drove over to a bike shop to get some tires. On the way, I drove by the Waffle House that is like a mile from the Quail Manor. As I'm driving by, a real looking cowboy is leaving the parking lot. On his horse. This did not look like any dimestore cowboy. This looked like a guy in town and the horse was his transportation. I did the obligatory double-take and gave the Waffle House a thumbs-up.

At some point during the summer I saw what I presume is the same guy riding along Mission Road. Presumably heading back towards the Waffle House. I can only surmise that cowboys like Waffle House?

So, this weekend I'm on Mission Road starting a bike ride. I get caught at the light at the first big intersection on my way to getting rural. I look up. Here is my cowboy atop his horse, pulling a spare horse, leaning over to push the crosswalk button. Cars everywhere. Like it's the most regular thing in the world. This time he is coming out of the bank. I can only assume he went through the drive-thru to get cash so he could go - to the Waffle House.

I love the barrio!

Meanwhile, The Sisters hit Sabino Canyon The Sabino Canyon is north and east of the Quail Manor deep in the bowels of fancy neighborhood area. It's real pretty. So they go to the visitors center for the briefing. The briefing guy highlighted all the trails he thought would be appropriate and pointed out another one that was 4 plus miles each way with four water crossings. I wasn't there, but they suspected profiling. Good thing he doesn't work for the TSA or we'd have to sanction him.

He emphasized the water crossings a lot. They did it anyway. He underestimated The Sisters...

Pictures follow. Observant readers may notice the first picture does not look relevant to any canyon. It's not. It's a grapefruit purloined from DnT's when they were over there taking pictures. I am an accessory after the fact. I can neither vouch for this entire grapefruit, or the other grapefruit on the tree, but the segments I was allocated were damn tasty.