July 2007 Archives

Laser Fun


I spent some time today at Techshop, working with one of the laser cutters there. On Friday evening, Noel and I took the intro to laser cutting class and I had spent much of the weekend working on some drawings to try out.

Techshop has two laser cutters: an Epilog Summit and an Epilog Helix. The Summit has a 22" x 17" cutting area (although larger materials can fit into the machine; I was using 24" stock), while the Helix has a 24" x 18" cutting area (and that's about as large as the material can be). The Helix is a newer, more powerful, faster machine. The Summit is more often available, and as I happened to need a lot of time, it was the one I used today. I spent about six hours on the system, and stopped because I was going to go crazy if I had to spend another minute there watching the machine sloooooowly cut the wood.

What follows are some of my notes on the Summit and the materials I was using.

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Gardening and Global Warming


Yeah, I should be working on my thesis right now and instead I was reading a garden blog and procrastinating. I prefer to think of it as "cogitating." Anyway, this brief note got me a bit riled up. The gist of it is that since 40% of carbon emissions come from tilled soil, home gardeners should not till. And possibly mulch will hold carbon in.

There are a couple of problems with that thesis that seem fairly obvious to me. First of all, that 40% of carbon emissions is not coming from home gardeners. It's coming from large-scale agriculture. Whether I till my garden or not is a miniscule amount compared to the massive problems of large-scale agriculture. Second, mulch itself emits carbon, as do all decomposing organics, and its production causes carbon emission.

So the entire thesis misunderstands how carbon emissions happen. But behind it is a belief that tilling is bad (and I generally agree there, except in cases where you are tilling organic material into infertile soil for crops, which is why most people till their gardens) and mulch is good.

Mulch, alas, is not the wonder-drug of gardens. For one thing, it keeps the upper layer of soil moist, and the upper layer of the soil is not where the roots should be -- the lower layers of soil don't dry out as fast as people think they do unless a plant uses up the water there, and in that case mulch is not going to help you. Mulch attracts pests, or worse it carries pests from wherever it came from. It absorbs moisture that could go into the root zone and then allows it to evaporate, wasting water. It's doesn't even really stop weeds, especially our pernicious Bermuda grass. And most of all, it is generally in the process of decomposing, which uses resources your plants might want.

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Site Model


Last night I finished making the last of the little scaled blocks that represent buildings on my site model, and this morning and afternoon I've been assembling the freeway down the center.

My actual site (well, sites) is the area under the six large warehouses: two on the far side of the freeway and four on the near side. They're fairly easy to see in this photo, as they're the fattest buildings on the site, and all the same size.

The blocks that are those warehouses are not attached, so I can put my final model on the site, too.

Site model up close

I'm still in mid-assembly on that freeway; there are two off-ramps that I need to assemble and attach, but the rest of the site has to finish drying before I can fiddle with it some more.

Entire site model

When I finish the freeway, I'm going to trim the long end off the board, and trim the overhanging buildings, too. Then I need to clean the apartment, because it's a holy mess. I would have worked on this in the studio, but there's no room in there these days.

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Some Garden Planning


No, I have not died, but I've been working on a site model for several days now, perhaps one might even say I've been working on it for four weeks, if you count numerous trips to measure things like building heights and the size of the freeway and so on.

But I will not talk about my thesis, because it's getting boring even for me to listen to me talk about it. Instead, let me show you a couple spots in the garden that need serious work:

Right side of the quince tree

Left side of the quince tree

These are the beds on either side of the quince tree, and they are horrible at this time of the year. In the spring they have ranunculus and allium growing in them, but now, not so much. Lots of neat weeds, though. So I'm kind of considering how to plant them out.

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This page is an archive of entries from July 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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