Trash Patio · 2 September 2017

Apparently, I take things to the extreme. While I was making a patio for the trash and recycle to sit on, I dug a trench two feet deep for a possible conduit.

But perhaps I should start at the beginning.

I normally make a project in the summer when I am home from teaching high school students. I was planning on making a shed (hoping to still get there), but ended up making a small patio with left over pavers. (Where those pavers were left over from is another story.) At any rate, I got the idea of making a patio for the trash and recycle bins to live when talking to a friend about the shed. He suggested making a shed with no floor. Just have a floor of pavers.

The brilliance of the idea hit me like a ton of pavers. I would not need to make a ramp to the door, and there would be no rodents living in the floor trusses of the shed. (Speaking of rodents, why is it that bunnies are thought of as cute little animals, when in reality, they are just rodents with large teeth, big ears, strong legs, and a fluffy tail? Ah, but that is a rant for another day.)

Well to make a short story a little longer, I built the patio for the bins. The pavers I used were quite the assortment. Of sizes, shapes, and thicknesses. Which made it a bit tough to get the patio perfect. Impossible really. Which is fine. After all, it is just a place to put the trash, recycle, and yard waste bins. It does not need to be perfect. Or even totally flat. Which, I might have already mentioned, it is not.

The patio for the bins is a nice piece of work that it took me quite a while to do. I cleared the area, then put gravel to mostly level it out, then placed the pavers. It was like a jigsaw puzzle with no reference picture or interlocking pieces. Still it was a fun puzzle.

Of course, I had to get to the puzzle first.

Being homeowners, we always have our sights set on another project down the road. (Or is that just me?) Ours involves putting in power out to the back yard. Which means running wire. Which means running conduit to place the wire. Which means having to dig up the puzzle that I was going to put together. Which is something I did not want to do. So naturally, I put the conduit in first. Just in case we ever get to the other project.

I looked up how deep I ought to put the conduit and found that new construction wiring from the street to the house is two feet deep. So I decided to make my own conduit the same depth. Well, I knew I was going to have rocks to dig through, so I got a pickaxe and started singing, “High Ho, High Ho,” and it was off to work I went. I dug, dug, dug, dug, dug, dug, dug, dug. Dug the whole day through. And the next day as well. I dug under a drain pipe and finally got to a depth of two feet. I placed my twenty-foot long four-inch diameter PVC pipe with caps on both ends into the two-foot deep trench I dug, and buried it again. Apparently, that was overkill. Or maybe the fact that the trench was two feet deep at one end and deeper at the other end was overkill. Or maybe that it was a pipe I ran just in case was overkill. But it does not really matter that it is overkill. If we ever put power into the back yard, I am prepared. I will not need to dig the trench again underneath my trash patio because the conduit is there.

Of course, if we ever do use the just in case conduit, I will need to dig more trenches. And I will probably overdo them as well. But that is okay. Taking things to the extreme is what I do. After all, I made a patio for all the trash bins to sit on. (Even if I only have the floor of the shed built so far.)

© 2017 Michael T. Miyoshi

Share on facebook



Not Quite 100% · 26 August 2017

Total Eclipse (99%) of the Sun August 21, 2017

So maybe you do need to fly your Learjet up to Nova Scotia to see a total eclipse of the sun. (Thanks Carly Simon.) Or to wherever the next one will be. Apparenlty, 99% is not 100%.

I thought that the totality thing was just a bunch of hype. I figured 99% is close enough to 100%. I thought wrong.

I did not do the math, but I did do a little thinking after we saw 99% total eclipse of the sun.

Mathematically, light and energy get through an opening as the square of the size of the opening. So if the opening doubles, the energy quadruples. But if it halves, the energy only goes down by a quarter (or something like that, I still did not do the math). Non-mathematically, even if most of the sunlight and energy did not get around the moon, some did. And that some was plenty to keep the earth warm and lit.

But it was not the qualitative or quantitative thinking that made me think that next time, I want to take the Learjet. The thinking that got me wanting to chant “totality or bust” next time actually came from a sermon. The thought goes that regardless of how much darkness is in the world, just a little bit of light shines brightly. It is why we are supposed to shine our light on a hill instead of hiding it under a bushel basket. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Watch the Total Eclipse (99%)

I wish I had thought of that song and the sermon before we went down to watch the eclipse. Oh it was a great time. We spent the time with my mother-in-law on her porch and watched the sun turn slowly dimmer. The birds stopped chirping (but two crows kept walking around on the lawn) and the temperature dropped and the day turned gray without a cloud in the sky. But it did not get black as night. The stars did not shine. That tiny sliver of light that never quite went away was too bright to bring the day to a temporary end. (And it was certainly too bright to take our eye protection off.)

Of course the time was well spent. Whenever you spend time with loved ones it is time worth spending. After all, relationships are everything. We should have just taken the party down the road a little farther.

That little sliver of light did lead to some reflection though. It led to thoughts of reliability and manufacturing and service. Thoughts about how we would complain if our toaster only worked 99% of the time or our cars were manufactured 99% correctly or our mail was only delivered to the correct location if at all just 99% of the time. We would be furious. We would not stand for it. Ninety-nine percent is not good enough.

Still, watching the eclipse at 99% was pretty spectacular. It was amazing to see how the orbit of the earth around the sun and the orbit of the moon around the earth created such a spectacular phenomenon that occurs every so often to remind us of how majestic is God’s creation. I even heard how if the moon’s and the earth’s orbits were on the same plane, we would get a total solar eclipse every month at the new moon. (And I suppose we would get a total lunar eclipse every month at the full moon. Or something like that. I did not do the science either.) It would be old hat and mundane rather than somewhat rare and spectacular.

When all was said and done, we got to see a marvelous display in the sky. I even got to think a little about mathematics and physics. But if we are able to do so, I think I will go for totality next time. And if I am ever in a position to do so, I think I’ll take a Learjet to wherever, to see a total eclipse of the sun.

© 2017 Michael T. Miyoshi

Share on facebook



Total Eclipse of the Sun · 19 August 2017

Moon before Lunar Eclipse September 2015

You do not need to fly your Learjet up to Nova Scotia to see a total eclipse of the sun (a la Carly Simon). Just pack up your bags and head down to Grandma’s house to see it in Portland. At least that is what we are going to do.

Seeing a total eclipse of the sun is a pretty fantastic phenomenon. Or at least I imagine it will be.

I remember seeing a partial eclipse when I was in elementary school. Hardly any of the sun was eclipsed by the moon, but our principal showed it to us when we were out on the playground. He held two pieces of paper out in front of him and I looked at the partial eclipse on the lower piece. The upper piece of paper had a pinhole in it and the sun shone on the lower paper. He made sure to tell me that I should never look directly at the sun even through sunglasses, but seeing an eclipse with the pinhole was a perfectly safe way to view the partial eclipse. Even though the paper was very bright.

You can also look at the sun through welding goggles or welding helmets or glasses made specially for viewing the sun, but you can still not view an eclipse with your naked eyes or with sunglasses. Not unless it is a full eclipse. And then, only when the sun is fully eclipsed. Otherwise, you run the risk of damaging your eyes. (See NASA’s website.)

But enough about eclipse viewing safety.

Lunar Eclipse September 2015

I have been interested in eclipses ever since that day in elementary school when our principal showed me the partial solar eclipse projected through the pinhole in a piece of paper. I do not look at every eclipse (they usually happen a few times a year), but I have photographed a couple lunar eclipses. I suppose I could prepare for those solar eclipses with my pinholed paper apparatus, but I rarely know when they are going to happen. Still, I have bought into the hype of the total eclipse of the sun happening this summer. (I even bought a bunch of the special glasses that are on NASA’s list of reputable vendors.)

I think that Portland is just outside the path for the complete total eclipse, but it is pretty close. We ought to see most of the sun eclipsed by the moon (weather permitting). And that is pretty cool. I am also interested in hearing whether birds really do stop chirping because they think it is dusk and time to go to sleep. Even for a few minutes. And of course, it will be interesting to see the whole process of the sun getting blotted out by the moon. It will be like dusk happening a little after dawn in Portland. It will go dark and then it will be dawn again.

It will be a long trip for a short show, but I am looking forward to the August 21, 2017 total eclipse of the sun. I have my solar eclipse glasses and already have my viewing location reserved. We will be at my mother-in-law’s house up and ready for the event in the morning. I am just glad I do not need to have a Learjet to fly up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun.

© 2017 Michael T. Miyoshi

Share on facebook



Older Newer