Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer Has Finally Arrived

Yesterday afternoon at 3:16. Sensor is regulation, 4′ above ground and shaded. Death Valley is the only place in the U.S. hotter than here, and only slightly.

Posted by Dave.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dry Bones In A Dry Season

I just like the title. It stays with me. Seems to fit the times. The title is lifted from an essay by Richard Mitchell. But plagiarism aside, I digress.

I haven't worked much in the last couple of years. Maybe construction will come back, maybe not. If construction does make a comeback, the first industries to feel the revival will be surveying and civil engineering. And like Garrison Keillor's story about the husband waiting in the "V" of the bed for his wife to join him in sex, there I'll be, waiting. I bought a laptop with AutoCAD Civil 3D 2010 from a civil engineering firm that had fallen on hard times. Then I bought a half-dozen books on Civil 3D. So I haven't been sitting on the couch watching Oprah. The above is a screenshot of part of my footing drawing for the new Las Vegas City Hall building, which I worked on last year. I used this drawing to calc layout points for the footing dig.

This screenshot is the street centerline points for the same LV City Hall building. In another week or two I'll go back to work for a couple of months, and these points, which I got from the project surveyor, are what I need to calc points for the first-up project, footings for the Photo-Voltaic "Trees" going in front of the building. After that, bollards and sidewalks and steps. In addition to laying out the locations of these outside features, I'll also be slugging in stakes and doing formwork. After all, I am a carpenter.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Concerned About The Citizenry

I think our masters are worried.

These bollards and crash-barriers are very common in Washington D.C.

Everywhere you look.

Kinda reflects a paranoid mindset.

Notice the bottom line of this sign. These people will go all SWAT on your ass if you so much as blink.

Posted by Dave.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


This morning's moonset. Click to make bigger. Notice the "noise" or graininess in the pic. When I took this, it was still dark out, so my camera automatically compensated and made it look a lot lighter than it really was. The moon's highlights are totally blown. Next time I'll use a tripod and manual settings.

Posted by Dave

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Getting Warm

5:03 this afternoon, and I took our director of security, Charlie, out to check the perimeter. It felt warm.

With temps like this, summer is right around the corner. Typical highs here in July are in the mid-120's. Death Valley is usually only 2 or 3 degrees hotter than here.

Posted by Dave

Thursday, June 9, 2011

New Freezer Door Handle

The plastic handle on our Frigidaire freezer broke. I found a place on the Innertubes that sells appliance parts that had the right handle in stock, but they wanted $32 plus shipping. Mrs. UC said, "Screw that! You're a carpenter, right? Make a damn handle!" So here's what I made.

I have two Underground Carpenter blogs, one with Blogger and one with WordPress. My projects will be posted here on Blogger and my rants will be posted on WordPress. Here.

Changing Spark Plugs on a Nissan Xterra

I had 95,000 miles on my 2007 Nissan Xterra, so I decided to change the spark plugs. I'm unemployed, money is tight, so I decided to do it myself. I always start with the easy stuff (personal motto: Make a Showin'!), so first I changed the three plugs on the driver side of the motor. These first three easy guys took about an hour. Hey, I'm a carpenter, not a mechanic, and I tread VERY cautiously into the unknown.

Clicking on any of these pics will make them bigger.

This side is the reason that the spark plugs I bought last December($59.94 for 6 NGK platinum plugs) didn't get put in until last week. Look at all this air-intake stuff in the way! My first thought was to remove this stuff so I could get to the plugs. Nope, ain't gonna happen! I never did figure out how to get all this stuff out of the way. I spent an hour scratching my head and undoing a few bolts, hoses and wires. Finally, I put everything back like I found it and steeled myself to the task of being a contortionist. Two hours later, I had this side done, with a minimum of bleeding and a lot of cussing.

Here's the minimum tools you'll need:

3/8" socket wrench and extensions of various lengths. (I used all of these.)
3/8" universal. (I bought this afterwards. It would have saved me an hour.)
Long, skinny screwdriver. You'll need this to disassemble extensions in places you can't reach with your fingers.
Flexi-grabber. (The orange-handled thingy in the pic.) You'll need this to pull the plug out after you unscrew it. If the rubber gripper inside the spark plug socket had worked, I wouldn't have needed it. I use this tool daily to pick scorpions up off the floor. Here in the Mohave Desert, scorpions are the most common insect.
5/8 spark plug wrench. Make sure it has the rubber gripper inside.
10mm socket for undoing the caps over the spark plugs.

Don't forget to put connector grease on the plugs. $1.29.

Here's the old plugs. No oil or carbon fouling, so the motor is probably OK. You can see that a deposit stalactite(stalagmite?) was starting to form and eventually would have shorted out the plug.