Break Week 19

Tick … Tick … Tick … you get the idea. Summer is coming to an end.

Well, technically, not really. Not yet, anyway. In reality summer ends with the autumnal equinox on Sept 23 this year. I know many people think as a practical matter that summer ends with Labour Day — at least here in North America (well, except in Mexico, where they celebrate Labour Day on May 1 [which makes it more like the Russian celebration of International Workers’ Day {I think I need another layer of notes here}]) — but we all know that isn’t really true.

Except… according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac:

Based on the astronomical definition of seasons, yes, the autumnal equinox does mark the first day of fall (in the Northern Hemisphere). However, according to the meteorological definition of seasons, which is based on temperature cycles and the Gregorian calendar, the first day of fall is September 1.

So, maybe September 1 really is the end of Summer, from a certain point of view. And Darth Vader is Luke’s father. (Spoiler.) (Bonus points to those who see what I did there.) (Even more bonus points to anyone who emails me and explains what I did there.)

Anyway, all that gibberish is a long way of saying “one more week before school starts again. Yay!

The past week was spent volunteering in the shop at school, all day, for five days. In that time I worked on two major projects, only one I managed to remember to photograph:

That is a cabinet for storing large rollers in the print studio. It’s constructed from the carcasses of two preexisting cabinets that were shortened (by cutting the ends off on the table saw) and then put back together vertically on a riser. The centre bar is a locking mechanism, so the print instructors can keep “enthusiastic” students from misusing and damaging $3000 ink rollers. The hasp at the top lets the bar out, and a single padlock on that hasp means it is easy to open the cabinet and get the rollers when they are needed.

Oh, and the thing on the right is a riser an instructor asked me to make from some of the scraps. It turns out the tables in the print studio were all setup by a very tall instructor who no longer works at the college, and the current instructors are substantially shorter. A step stool sort of thing can be useful as a result.

The other big project is a steel frame that will eventually be a double sided projection screen. I got the frame all built and mounted on castors (or casters, as some prefer). It’s 80 inches tall and 90 inches wide and just barely fits in the only elevator that will move it from the basement to the second floor of the building it will be used in. The instructor asked for a really big screen without giving any additional details. We had to ask what rooms it would be used in to discover that it needed to go in an elevator, and that changed a lot of things about it. When he has the time, the shop manager will create two wood frames, stretch projection screen cloth on them, and mount them on the frame I built. Then it will be done. Sadly we didn’t have time to finish the entire job this summer, but that’s life.

While working in the shop I bumped into the instructor I worked with on the plastic shredder. Remember that project from past posts? Well, he’s getting the college electrician to wire it up for him, and it is nearing completion. I’ve seen a short video of the hot-wired motor running and turning the shredder blades, so that much works. Apparently it will get finished up in the coming week. The same instructor has already asked me if I want to work with him to create the next project: an injection moulding machine. I told him I need to go through a week or two of my classes before I make a decision, as I need to get a feel for just how much work I will be putting into them. I don’t want to commit to doing the work and then be unable to do it.

In other news, I thought the harbour had been pretty boring for some time; no explosions, collisions, or anything else abnormal. And in fact, almost nothing was happening at all when I was on it. Ships didn’t seem to be moving around much. Then, on Tuesday afternoon headed home, I saw two cruise ships heading out of the harbour — towards the Lions Gate Bridge — at the same time. Playing tag, if you will:

I was busy watching those ships and only rather abruptly realized that the SeaBus captain was heading straight into a freighter:

I think we were about 20 metres from the Asian Naga at closest approach. It was as if the captain was seeing how close he could cut it, and turned to let us go past its stern as late as possible. As you can see, the freighter got into the line of ships leave the harbour that day. Here’s another view that includes the sulphur piles on the north shore:

I guess it wasn’t all that exciting, really. No collisions, as I say, but there were things to look at, and sights I wasn’t used to seeing. For the curious, here’s a link you can use to figure out where the Asian Naga is whenever you read this post:

Also, one morning on the way to school I spied this relative of the banana slug in the park near my home:

That’s my size 11 shoe/foot for comparison. Down in our old stomping grounds in California we had these things — quite often a bit bigger than this one — but in bright yellow. A quick google search says we should be able to see them up here as well, but I haven’t yet. Only these brown guys. I’ll keep my eyes open.

Next week my plans are to paint, carve, and generally waste time before I go back to school. I was going to spend next week working in the shop, but my lovely wife is attending some kind of local music camp for four days, so I get to be the dog watcher when she’s not home. Thus, I should have time to do artistic things if I can make them happen.

That’s the state of the world this week. Cheerio!



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Jeff Powell

Jeff Powell


Sculptor/Artist. Former programmer. Former volunteer firefighter. Former fencer. Weirdest resume on the planet, I suspect.