Friday, January 1, 2010

the new year

I guess it might be a good idea to make a resolution to write something here every day for the year 2010 (which is VERY weird to type, I want you to know), but I am not sure that is a thing I can commit to.


I am scheduled to preach a sermon in two days' time, and my topic began as "resolve" as in New Year's Resolutions, but it morphed into something about failure being a necessary part of the learning process and success. That morphing came about as a result of many conversations with lots of people about their resolution-making habits. Seems we don't make resolutions any more, because we don't want to make promises we can't keep. Or, in more plain (and less pretty) language: we don't like to fail. And failing once means it's over. We weren't perfect.

Which is bullshit, of course. None of us really expects to be perfect. But somehow we get this thing in our heads that says that we must do everything perfectly or it's a total failure.

OK, I resolve to write something here every day for 2010. I do not expect to do this perfectly. That's OK. It's a tall order, but hopefully I can break it down into pieces I can handle. Like days, maybe. That works in other areas of my life, so why not?

Wow talk about diversions.

I sat down to write today to talk about some of the cool geometry I have been doing and the metal work that goes with it. I'm working on a little project, and what I have so far may or may not work, but at least I've got the math down.

I'm welding pipes together to create a structure that will have multiple uses, none of them polite. Yeah, it's another one of those projects. So anyway, I want this thing to be made of conduit, easy to assemble and easy to take apart and stash behind the couch when the party is over.

In order to join two pieces of round pipe together, they have to be cut on a specific line so that they will match up. If the lines don't match, then the angles will be skewed and that would be bad. So, here is a picture of one of my patterns and one of the pipes I have been working on. The pipe, for the record, has been cut wrong.

Now I know that looks like a lot of squiggles and weirdness, but let me explain. See the triangle in the upper left of the pattern? It has one leg that is the farthest left vertical line, and another leg coming down from the apex at something less than a 45 degree angle. See it?

OK, that's the angle of the joint that I want.

Notice how this pipe fits neatly into the angle.

Only it's not supposed to do that. The angle is based on an isosceles triangle with a base of four feet and two legs of seven feet each. The pipes I want to weld together will serve as the corner piece for the top of the triangle. So, to get the angle I want, I have to have TWO pieces of pipe in that space. Now when I move the pipe down to show how I bisected the angle of the triangle, you can see how it does not match what I need.

So I drew out my pattern, which is that hill-looking sort of thing to the right, and marked the curve with those old-fashioned French Curve gizmos. Then I cut out the pattern and wrapped it around the pipe to see what my cut should have been. Ooooohhhhh. Yeah. It's off by a bit.

I brought the pattern down to my basement workshop and marked the pieces anew and set to cutting and grinding them into shape. It worked like a charm! I tack welded the pieces together and they look great. And then I left them downstairs to cool off from the welding.

But I did bring up another of the joints I was working on for this project. As part of the base, I need two equilateral triangles, with legs of four feet each. This triangle will lie flat on the ground and one of the legs will serve as the base to the triangles whose apexes (apii??) brackets I just created. To make them easy to assemble, I created six (three corners times two triangles = six corners) corner brackets like the one below.

Pretty sexy, huh? Yeah, I'm a metal geek. I know. And yes, for the old-school journalism majors out there, that is a pica pole in the upper corner of the picture. I used to be an editor, remember. I think I've even got a reproduction percentage wheel around here somewhere too. Not much call for the wheel any more, but the pica pole makes a dandy straight edge, it is marked in inches as well as picas and points, and it's a bang-up back scratcher.

Oh, in case you had not figured it out, the corners are made so that I can slip the four-foot lengths of conduit( one size smaller than the angle piece) into the openings and secure them with either a set screw or a pin or something yet to be determined. I'll keep you updated as to my progress.

On New Year's Day in this corner of Maine, we are snowed in. We got snow last night, it snowed again today, and it is expected to snow again tomorrow, with a vengeance. I don't think my preaching gig is going to happen on Sunday. The forecast calls for unmitigated nastiness right through Sunday afternoon. So I will start shoveling tomorrow, do more on Sunday, and then hunker down with some cocoa and the football games on Sunday afternoon. Maybe I'll get some good snow pictures, too. That might be nice. Stay tuned.


msladydeborah said...

Happy New Year Dawn!

I'm sitting here watching Ohio State and Oregon do battle at the Rose Bowl. We don't have much snow in Ohio but it is about to become bone chilling cold.

Jen said...

I am humbled to say that this entire post was Greek to me, and I have NO FREAKING IDEA what any of those drawings meant. This is why I have music degrees.
And I've done two full months of posting so far; never quit NaBloPoMo. It's just day by day.

Middle Aged Woman said...

Oh gawd, I love math! I knew exactly what that was. Looks like you need two pipes at 22.5 degree cuts to put together into a 45 degree angle?

I'd stay away from set-screws, they loosen too easily. Can you do a hole on the outer tube and a pop-up button on the inner? Kind of like an umbrella.