Friday, August 31, 2007

The Following is Rated R

Sorry. I just had to laugh when I read this.

Pournelle's Iron Law and Burning Man

This guy sounds like all of us down in the foundry after lunch complaining about Arcosanti. Pournelle's Iron Law rules over more than just government. Money quote:
Burning Man should stop the disingenuous Green Man immediately. It's all a lie. If you want to know how much a of a total lie it is, run a Google satellite photo of Burning Man right now and count the number of RVs there. And they're telling me it's an environmental movement? Bullshit. There are people sucking gas up there faster than they are passing it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Slow Few Days

The last few days have been slow for us. I haven't molded bells since Thursday (Friday, I was on grinder, Monday we assembled and worked on furnaces, and today I made clappers for the 135 bells), and the weekend was mostly spent with me doing tours and Debbie working in the bakery. We went to Prescott on Saturday and just wandered around in the art galleries. I talked to another guy involved in the Prescott bronze scene and look at some very well-done bronze work, which was interesting. There was some sort of music festival in the park at the center of town that we didn't know about until we got there so we hung around until 9pm or so listening.

See? Told you it was a slow few days.

The most exciting thing that has happened recently was the Schwans guy showing up at Arcosanti last night. Woohoo!! Ice cream!! Well, actually it was hamburger patties and frozen fruit bars. The only ice cream he had left was the 2 1/2 gallon tubs. We had neither the freezer space nor the money. So for now, it's just, "woo. hamburgers. fruit bars. hoo." But he's coming back in two weeks! With ICE CREAM!!!

(ahem) Sorry. Didn't mean to shout.

Monday, August 27, 2007

PHB's Are Everywhere

Our PHB is female, but she also demands the final say in all things no matter how trivial. The difference is that Arcosanti isn't enough of a true organization to have anything like annual reviews. And the last merit raise I heard of was $.05/hour. That says all that needs to be said.

Saturday, August 25, 2007


I think this is a first: our Web-Stat page shows a visitor from Reykjavik, Iceland (the little yellow dot next to Greenland):

Not sure what interest there is in Iceland for our strange lives, but welcome to our blog, such as it is.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Why Bells?

Paul Graham talks about what makes a good programmer and why it is nearly impossible to be one in an organization of any size. Money quote:
...Any good programmer in a large organization is going to be at odds with it, because organizations are designed to prevent what programmers strive for.

Good programmers manage to get a lot done anyway. But often it requires practically an act of rebellion against the organizations that employ them....
Which just gets tiresome after a couple decades. So now I create actual, physical objects that I can see and show to others, stick my face very close to molten bronze, and spend my afternoons wearing nothing but shorts and sandals lounging in the sun while I twist copper wire into funny shapes.

Speaking of bells, today I was on tail again. A mold started leaking while we were pouring. It wasn't bad, but having hot bronze running towards your foot and not being able to do anything about it is a tad disconcerting. But I had good people on the shovels that quickly took care of things and I still have two feet.

The second pour was more exciting. I was one of the shovelers and a mold had a good-sized leak. It was on the opposite side, so the other shoveler tossed wet sand on it. For some reason, the bronze popped and flew everywhere. Both of us were scrambling around trying to corral hot bronze before it got under the feet of the two guys pouring. I have to give them credit; they just ignored us and kept on pouring like nothing was happening. I tell ya, when your hands are on that shank and you're staring into liquid bronze, it's a total Zen thing. The rest of the universe doesn't exist.

The third pour gave me a chance to redeem myself after last Tuesday's lesson in what 2,200 degree bronze does to concrete. I was on shovel again and we had another leak and a fire. This time, I got the fire completely out and the bronze broke up before it did any serious damage. Sweet.

And today was another new bell. I did 102's, which is a much bigger bell. Meaning that I had to modify my patterns and use different tools to make them work. It didn't go too well. A couple molds cracked which pretty much wrecks all four bells in the mold. I forgot to put feet on two boxes, then put too many on the next two. (Four instead of three; I told the boss I was trying to average things out. He took that about as you would expect....) I was breaking out chunks of the mold, messing up patterns, etc. I finally got is mostly together on the last pour, making eight bells that were merely ugly rather than being complete disasters.

Ah well. Tomorrow I'm grinding all day, so I get a bit of a break from molding. I just put on my headphones and drift off into my own little world for six hours or so.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Still Here

I survived my first tail today. It focuses the mind wonderfully to have your face about 10 inches from 2,200 degree molten bronze knowing that if you screw up, that bronze will be on you. I had a nice little Zen-like five minutes where nothing existed except me, the bronze, and the guy on the other end.

It was so cool. Well, OK; maybe "cool" isn't the right word for having your facial hair singed off, but you know what I mean....

And my prediction came true sooner than I thought. I was scheduled for five boxes (per pour) of 135 bells today. I managed to get them done in good time even though I was tailing (meaning I had to stop molding bells to put on all the protective gear, tail for the pour, take it all back off, then set very quietly for a few minutes recovering). I even worked on some new designs. The only problem was that my scrap rate today was over 20%. Luckily, it wasn't my fault. See, some bells work better if you pour them at the beginning of the pour when the bronze is hottest, others need to be poured near the end after it has cooled a bit. The 135 bells I mold like the bronze a little cooler, so my stuff tends to be near the middle of the pour. But today, most of the bells molded like cooler bronze, so my stuff got shoved earlier in the pour, hence the high scrap rate. But I did get to try out a bunch of new stuff. Each of the 10 boxes was a different pattern with my entire second pour being designs I have never done before. Still refining things down into what I do and don't like, but much happier with the results today than yesterday.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Sometimes Life Really Sucks

If you can read this with dry eyes, I don't think I want to know you.

Personal Update

Just a short note on what I've been up to. To start off, I'm still learning stuff in the foundry, although today is the first time that I've molded bells since last Wednesday. Thursday, I had a doctor appointment, so I had to take the day off. Friday, I was on grinder (everyone takes turns; technically I was on grinder Wednesday, but ended up molding instead). Then yesterday, the boss decided that we really needed to take a day to clean the place up. Today I was back on my usual bell, but with several new tools that people had given me, or that I had scavenged out of the tool box of a coworker that left the foundry last week. I seem to be getting faster, so I had some time with my last few boxes to experiment. Some were OK, some were butt-ugly, and one pattern I will definitely develop more. I only had to scrap 2 out the 32 bells I molded, so not too bad.

As a department, we are a bit behind. We had one person leave last week. one that is still out of the country on extended vacation, and one on vacation until Labor Day. Another will be leaving Thursday for ten days or so. In the mean time, Friday was a complete disaster due to furnace problems. The first pour was too hot, so the bronze boiled in the molds, which wrecks the bells. On the second pour, we overshot and the bronze was too cold and hardened before it got to the bottom of the molds. All day, we managed less than 20 bells (typical day is 80 to 100 bells). A couple guys had problems today (some bells just have a high scrap rate due to their shape), and the fifth person was making bronze tiles (something new for us) instead of bells. Bottom line is that the output from Friday and today combined barely makes a day's worth of bells.

But here is the best part of all: it ain't my problem!! I just crank out bells and let the people that make more money than me do the worrying. Sweet. The only direct effect on me will be when I get moved up to five boxes per pour, which I'm sure will be some time soon given how early I got done today even slowing down to work with new tools and patterns.

Things finally worked out today for me to practice being "on tail." I will be doing it for real tomorrow. In order to get low enough for the pour to work, my face will be less than a foot from the bronze. I don't expect that I will be needing to shave as the heat from the bronze burns the hair off my arms from several feet away when I'm doing the shoveling.

Speaking of shoveling, there is a new chunk missing from the concrete deck thanks to me. Besides the boiling problem, when the bronze is too hot, it tends to break out of the molds. One of the shovelers' jobs is to watch for leaks and break them up by mixing wet sand into the bronze. The bronze is so hot, it will literally burn the concrete and leave a hole if you don't move fast enough. Well, during the first pour on Friday, one got away from me. It was all pretty dramatic. When the bronze leaked, it ran under the mold, which sits on a piece of plywood screwed to a couple 2x4 feet. Of course, the wood immediately burst into flame. I threw a bunch of sand around the mold, which smothered the fire. I needed to move the mold so I could get at the puddle of bronze underneath, but I couldn't without getting in the way of the guys doing the pouring. If anyone has seen Backdraft, you know what happened as soon as the mold was moved: the wood flashed back into full flame. Between myself and the second shoveler, we got everything under control, but it was too late for the concrete deck. There is a nice new divot about five inches across and a quarter of an inch deep in the foundry floor.

And just for the record, that was more excitement in about three minutes than I had in 22 years of sitting in a cubicle.

And I am beginning to understand the logic behind the questions I was asked during my job interview for the foundry. There were exactly two:

"Have you ever had a back injury?"

"Have you ever been on fire?"

OK; enough for one post. Tomorrow, I will let everyone know how my first time on tail goes. That second question has me a little nervous....

Lego Car Factory

One from the "far too much time on his hands" file (and you just know that this was done by a male):

Monday, August 20, 2007

We Seem to have Arrived

Hang on to your bippies folks. It seems that the Fed's rescue plan of easing credit to fix a market suffering from too much credit may not work.

Good night and good luck.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Debbie update

Hey All! Sorry I've been so quiet on our blog. I'll try to update those who take the time to read our blog. Work first:
Our last day at the small, hard to find AAA office was June 8th. We then moved/unpacked/organized and counted EVERY inventoried thing on Monday and Tuesday. I helped mostly with the inventory, so I didn't get my desk organized. Oh -- the best thing about the new office is I have my OWN DESK and I am working full time. Anyways, we had our "soft opening" on Wed, June 13th. Lots of problems in the morning with the phones/internet going up and down. It was hard to help a client when the computers and phones were dead. Oh well -- we survived and the clients took it in stride. I had a couple at my desk when we lost power to the whole office -- good thing I am near the front where all the windows are. Our "grand opening" was Friday, July 6th. Boy that was a hectic day. I forgot the estimated total of how many people came thru the door -- I think it was over 400! Before the year is out we are scheduled to have a "red carpet event" and another "ribbon cutting event" (or something like that with area dignitaries. The new office is in a large shopping strip center. Lots of parking and very visible. (Although we need a larger sign outside -- problems with what we could put on the facade and such) Our normal low is about 100 people served in a day. Every person that comes in is signed into our computer -- so we have a good idea of how many we help. Average day is about 120 I believe. That is between travel/insurance/car buying/trip tiks/tour books and maps/ and other things AAA offers. AAA also has mandatory training down in Phoenix. I have had to head down to HOT Phoenix for training. I can't believe how bad it is when we walk out at the end of the day. I'm surprised the blacktop is not bubbling up!

Home: We are slowly arranging our room to use all the space to the best of its ability. We recently bought a slow cooker and that has helped out alot in the cooking department with no real kitchen. Tomorrow is a try with country style ribs -- they were on sale and look awesome. Should be great after slow cooking all day in BBQ sauce! Who wants to join us?! Next day I try my hand at homemade chicken noodle soup in the slow cooker.

We have our name in the housing list for another place that is opening up this weekend. One of the other couples decided to give this place up. I hate to see them leave. Dinah was another kindered spirit -- a hardworker and cared about others and trying to make this place nicer. Anyways -- they had a nice large apartment on the third floor of EC3 -- complete kitchen and all. One drawback is the heat up there during the summer. We might have to invest in a room air conditioner. Oh well -- I would gladly have that expense to have a real kitchen.

Ric, as you know got a new job in the foundry. He likes it so far. Some of his first bells are now in the gallery. I tried to buy one today and he told me to wait til he starts making ones he really likes. These first ones are just basic design with three lines and a dot. He is expirementing with some other tools a couple people gave him. I guess I will find out later when he is happy with his design that we can buy one for ourselves and others. I was going to buy one of his "first bells" for my Mom and his Mom, but guess not.

We finally put a deposit on a BIG TRIP for just us. We are doing a 17night cruise/tour of Italy and the eastern Mediterrean in April/May 2008. Next year will be our 20th anniversary -- so we will be celebrating a little early. We fly into Venice and hope to plan some time to see Andrea who was in our workshop and worked with Ric in maintanence until he left.

After I put deposit on that, I got the news I had been chosen for a couple of AAA FAM trips. Agent only of course. But in September I will be going to Disneyland for 2 nights and then 6 nights in Hawaii -- 3 islands to see -- the Big Island, Oahu, and Maui. I wish we going to Kauai, but that will have to be another time.

Whenever we leave Arcosanti, we will probably be staying in the area. We recently signed up for a private mail box at the UPS store near downtown Prescott. That is the area we will probably try to find a rental. We have been there a couple weekends, but never during the day when all the things are open and happening. Ric got to explore this past week after his dentist appointment and found a bunch of interesting places in downtown Prescott. After the new tour guide schedule gets hammered out, he plans on taking off every other Sat or Sun so we can go visit places around here. We have been here almost 10 months and have not seen diddley squat! We need to go see what is worth it to see, so when my Mom comes to visit in December we know where to take her.

The biggest thing I miss here are my friends. Those that know me know that it takes me awhile to make friends. I haven't found anyone out here yet that I consider a good friend. Maybe I got spoiled by the friends I made in Kalkaska. :-) Yesterday I was looking thru the book that Kim made me with pictures and notes and started crying. I miss you all! I wish I could be there for a fun night of games and talking and foundue. I miss the talking and companionship the most -- being myself with you -- I know the wall was still up, but it was getting chipped away by certain ones. Thank you for that. The wall is back up again, but not as tall or thick in places. Things are much better between Ric and me. I can now say the cliche that what doesn't kill you, will make you stronger. I believe our marriage is stronger now then it has ever been. I thank all my family and my friends that stuck be me during that rough time. I could not have made it without all of you.

Well ... sorry to get so mushy and long winded. As I mentioned it has been awhile since I've blogged and things just keep pouring out. Hope all is well with all of you out in ether land.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Quick note from Debbie

Hi All! Yes, I am still alive. Busy since the move to our new office and now working full time. I promise to do another post maybe this weekend or next with news. I have to finish getting ready to go to work today for a few hours. We have a booth at some business showcase center.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture."

Read it and weep.

"Somewhere along the line, we stopped rewarding intelligence with success and stopped equating intelligence with success," Olbermann says. We're all in the bar now, where everybody's an expert, where the Gut makes everyone so very sure. All opinions are of equal worth. No voice is more authoritative than any others; some are just louder. Of course, the problem in the bar is that sooner or later, for reasons that nobody will remember in the clear light of the next morning, some noisy asshole picks a fight. And it becomes clear that the rise of Idiot America has consequences.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, nobody in the American government knew more than Richard Clarke did on the subject of a shadowy terrorist network called Al Qaeda. He had watched it grow. He had watched it strike--in New York and in Africa and in the harbor in Yemen. That morning, in the Situation Room in the White House, Clarke watched the buildings burn and fall, and he recognized the organization's signature as well as he'd recognize his own. Instead, in the ensuing days a lot of people around him--people who didn't know enough about Al Qaeda to throw to a cat--wanted to talk about Iraq. What they believed trumped what Clarke knew, over and over again. He left the government.




We're saved!!!

I wonder when the Fed will take off its crown and admit that the laws of economics are not subject to the edicts of bureaucrats?

Bells, Bells, Bells

Makin' bells. Makin' bells. Makin' bells.

This week got a little messed up, so I won't be on tail anytime soon. But today I did get to mold a new bell (the 111 for those playing at home) because one of the other foundry people called out sick. That means a bigger box full of wet sand to lug around the foundry, so my back and arms are feeling it big time. I was just getting used to the little box the 135's are molded in.

Other than that, not much going on.

Oh, yea; I was wrong about monsoon season being over. Now it's just hot and humid. By lunch time, I look like Debbie's dad and Uncle Leo at the end of a wedding reception: sweat literally pouring off my entire head, and my whole shirt and my pants about half-way to my knees soaked in sweat. I try not to stand upwind of anybody....

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The HOT Is Back

During the monsoons, it was in the 80's, maybe the 90's. Today must mark the end of the monsoon season: it was 103 when I was doing my last tour. According to the local weather, we can pretty much expect 100+ for at least the next 10 days or so. I wasn't in the foundry for the last three-week stretch of 100+ weather, so the next week is my torture test.

A Heretic on Global Warming

Freeman Dyson is always worth listening to. In this article, he discusses what is and isn't science, the need for heretics, and, of course, global warming.

Over on Jerry Pournelle's Mail page, a reader sent in a link to an article on the difficulty in even defining Surface Air Temperature. There is more variation between the different ways of calculating the magic number than the total warming they are supposed to be measuring. Jerry's response pretty much reflects my personal views:
The referenced articles are certainly worth reading for anyone interested in "Human Global Warming", but they don't tell us much. The FAQ at Goddard (responsible official, James Hansen) admits that there is no standard "surface temperature" and gives no formal definition. This alone ought to be enough to cause us to reject the alarm warnings: they can't or won't tell us how they get the numbers they scare us with. They're sure they see Global Warming, but they can't tell us what the temperature is, or what it was on December 31 last year, or what it was three weeks ago. And more to the point, they have no precise -- within a couple of degrees -- measure of the Global Temperature as of 1900, or 2000, so when they tell us how much it has risen since some date certain, we don't really know what they are saying.

The fact is that you can get almost any trend you want from the data, and you can get a "Mean Surface Temperature" from any of a dozen methods -- and those will vary by considerably more than the projected "warming."

Does this mean the Earth is NOT warming? Of course not. We can be darned certain that the mean Earth temperature is higher today than it was in 1776. We can be certain that it was warmer in 1900 than it was in 1776. What we can't be certain of is this: is (Mean Temperature 1900 minus Mean Temperature 1776) greater or less than (Mean Temperature 2000 minus Mean Temperature 1900)? Or to put it another way, when did the obvious rise in temperature between 1776 and 2000 take place? Recently? In the 1800's? Between 1900 and 1950?

Once again, I welcome communication from those who tell us that the Earth is warming and it's human activity that's doing it; but rather than proof by repeated assertion, what I'd like to know is on what data they base their conclusions? And how do they obtain that data? Just what is the formal definition of the "Mean Annual Temperature"? What do we mean when we say that 1938 was warmer (or cooler) than 1998? And by that I mean: what operations were performed to obtain the two numbers? What data did you average and with what weights? Do you take a daily world temperature, add all those up, and divide by 365? And given that you do, how do you get the mean daily temperature? Do you take temperatures of sea surface, air at sea surface, land at surface, air at surface level, air ten meters above surface, weight each by the amount of surface area on the globe it represents (one assumes that there are fewer temperatures taken at the South Pole and McMurdo and the Ross shelf to represent Antarctica than are taken in the continental US), and average all that?

It's odd, but so far I can't find how it's done. Moreover, apparently Hansen doesn't tell people -- which is why McKintire had to reverse engineer the data, and thus discover the Y2K bug.

When I took Philosophy of Science from Gustav Bergmann, I was taught that one definition of science is this: you can write a letter to a colleague, describing how you got a result, and he can, following your description of the experiment, obtain the same results. If you don't tell people how you got your results it isn't science.

Now true, Bergmann was one of the last survivors of the Vienna Circle, and the Weiner Kreiss was deeply committed to what is called "operational philosophy", which is a fairly extreme empiricism; but that doesn't make Bergmann wrong. If Hansen and the Human Global Warming advocates -- who go so far as to group "Global Warming Deniers" with "Holocaust Deniers" and presumably would treat Global Warming Deniers as Holocaust Deniers are treated in Europe, namely jailed -- have a different definition of science that says they don't have to tell people how they got their results, surely they have some obligation to tell the public -- which funds their activities and on whose backs the costs of their "remedies" will fall -- just what they are doing?

How do we get an annual Global Temperature? I still can't find the answer to that. And the Goddard paper says, to me at least, that they don't really have a formal definition, and raises many of the same questions I do.
And I'm fairly certain given the current cover on Newsweek that there is a vocal minority that would love to see "Global Warming Deniers" persecuted... er... prosecuted and imprisoned.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Y2K Bug

As someone that spent a great deal of time swatting Y2K bugs in the years prior to January 1, 2000 (your welcome), I knew that it could be serious. But now is seems to have caused global warming.

Money quote:
NASA has now silently released corrected figures, and the changes are truly astounding. The warmest year on record is now 1934. 1998 (long trumpeted by the media as record-breaking) moves to second place. 1921 takes third. In fact, 5 of the 10 warmest years on record now all occur before World War II.
Does this mean that the world can sue the a-hole James Hansen for damages? Understand, this is a guy who considers himself so smart that his precious algorithm didn't need peer review. In fact, according to him, no one in the world, other than the Great James Hansen could possibly be smart enough understand it. And it has a Y2K bug. Ye flippin' gods.

Details not coming to news media near you.


We're saved!!

After all, what better way is there to fix a market made unstable by excessive loans made to people who have no ability or intention of repaying them (code word: "sub-prime lending") than loaning out even more money to people who have no ability or intention of repaying (code word: "adding liquidity").

See? Nothing to worry about.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Health Care

I had started working on a health care mega-post, but I hadn't looked at it in a couple weeks, then got busy with more important things, like watching movies and eating Pop-Tarts. So I deleted what little I had completed. But here is as good of a framing of the issue as any I have read, and likely much better than anything I could do myself.

My concern is this: every last one of the shortcomings of our current health care system is the result of government meddling in the free markets, government regulation of hospitals, doctors, pharmacies, etc., and Jerry Pournelle's Iron Law. Excuse me if I am not enthusiastic about turning the tattered remains of 1/6 of the United States economy over to the very people who screwed it up, with some wild-eyed hope that they will fix it.

In the business world, it is a well-known axiom that the longer you delay a decision, the fewer options you will have until you have just one. And that one will almost always be the least attractive of the options you had at the beginning. That is where we are with health care. This problem has been building for a long time. We had a lot of options 30 years ago. We had fewer, but still several less-than-horrifying options 15 years ago. Now we seem to have only one, and I can't think of a worse alternative. Health care in the US will decline under socialized medicine, just as it has in England and Canada. And Mary Sal Wooten will still be sitting in her "decaying trailer somewhere on 301 South, with her retinas peeling like wallpaper from diabetic retinopathy, ankles swollen and darkening toward gangrene." Only instead of being turned away at the hospital because it isn't an emergency, she will be welcomed with open arms. Onto a two-year waiting list. The gangrene will kill her in 18 months. The doctors at the hospital will be well aware of this. It's called health care rationing. Now if Mary had the potential to make a significant contribution to society as, say, a business person, academic, or politician (especially that), she could get moved up the list far enough to survive until her treatment. Social Darwinism indeed. But she doesn't, so she won't, and it won't matter if she "really, truly no-shit can’t afford it" or not. She won't have any other option because for socialized medicine to have any chance of functioning, purchasing health care in the free market will be made illegal.

Of course, because I say that, I must be one of those rich Republican bastards with health care that Fred seems to be bitching at. (I make the minimum wage mandated by Arizona law, I've never voted for a Republican for any office, my parents were happily married when I was conceived, and I have health insurance through Debbie's job. I guess one out of four isn't bad for a pundit.)


When the bottom falls out, this will all be a quaint little tempest in a teacup anyway.

Minor Aberration

Slight blip.

Minor problem.

Bit of a hiccup.


Nothing to see here. Everything is fine. Go back to sleep.

The US News Media Learn Mathmatics!!!!


Lets see: White couples with birth rates below replacement + Unchecked Hispanic immigration (legal and illegal) + Tradition for large Hispanic families = Hispanic majority in the United States. The mind boggles that this is considered news. Anybody care to bet that Denver still considers Hispanics to be a minority when it comes to racial quotas and city contracts?

[Note: when I started this post, Drudge Report had three articles related to the growing Hispanic population in the US. They suddenly disappeared and were replaced with an article about how the Feds are stepping up immigration enforcement. I found the above article through Google. I didn't have enough key words from the other two to find them. Is it time to get paranoid yet?]

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

More Bells

Yesterday, I did six more boxes of bells. Today I did 10 boxes, one of which leaked (it happens; either I didn't line up the top and bottom part of the mold exactly, or the bronze was poured too hard, or the Greek god of hot bronze was having a little fun at my expense, or....), leaving me a net of nine boxes in three pours. I tried out a new design today, although I was less than thrilled with the results. I'll probably dedicate tomorrow to getting used to the new tool I used and experimenting with variations on the design. I don't know if we will be doing three heats tomorrow or not. We have one person going on vacation for a month starting tomorrow, one working in other departments for the rest of the week, and another leaving the site at the end of the week.

Anyway, still having fun. Next week, I start practicing for being on "tail" for the pours, using sand or water in a crucible so I can get used to the weight (total 100-120 pounds) and learning how to move with the person on the other end doing the actual pouring. The person with her back to the camera is on tail:


Her face is about 18 inches from a crucible full of 2200 degree molten bronze. Exciting stuff. Can't wait!!

Monday, August 06, 2007

My First Bell

As I type this, I'm looking at the first bronze bell I have ever molded. OK, technically it isn't the first, but rather one of the first. I molded six boxes today, and each box has four bells. The boxes are all broken out at once, so I have no idea if this is my first, fifth, or 24th bell. I didn't have as many problems as I expected. Of course, as you would expect, I was making very simple designs on one of the smallest bells we make (the 135 bell, for the curious). Here is a picture of mine right out of the mold. Other than brushing the foundry sand off with a wire brush, nothing has been done to this yet.



Tomorrow, the bottom edge will be ground flat, the outside wire-wheeled, the top drilled, the clapper installed, and chain attached to the top. Then it will get dunked in a muriatic acid bath, and left under wet burlap for a day or so until it has a red-green-blue patina finish.

Obviously, I still have more than plenty to learn, but I can say that I know more now than I did 24 hours ago.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Weather and More Photos

Monsoon season in Arizona is sort of like Michigan would be if it only rained for an hour in the afternoon. The humidity has been running around 30-40% and the temps are in the high 80's to low 90's. Then sometime between lunch and 6pm, clouds roll in, the humidity spikes up to 70% or so, then lightning, thunder, and rain for a half hour or so. Then the clouds leave, the temperature drops 20 degrees, and the humidity goes away.

And still more photos. Last Sunday, we took a little day trip around central Arizona to see Montezuma Castle, Montezuma Well, an attempt to see the V Bar V Petroglyph (the road was washed out), Tuzigoot, and Prescott. The monsoons caught up to us in Prescott, so we only got one photo for now. I'm sure we will be back soon, and we will make sure we get there in the morning before the weather gets bad. Tuesday, Debbie had the day off and came down to the foundry for an hour or so to get some photos of what goes on there. (Nothing scary in these photos, Jen... ;-)

Other than that, not much going on. Just work and sleep.