Summerized Blog

Laser Etching on Round Surfaces

I finally got back over to TechShop this evening, for another laser class. And I really need to get in habit of taking pictures — forgot again tonight.

Anyway, we learned how to put a special attachment into the lasercutter, which supports a cylindrical object, and spins it as it etches. Our sample project was just etching some letters onto a beer bottle, but I can see a lot of potential for interesting projects.

Next up is refining my salt and pepper. I may learn to vacuum form, and try to form the parts that way.

Chi Town

Last weekend, we traveled to Chicago for two important events — my cousin Beau’s wedding and Grandma’s 90th birthday.

Beau and Caryn’s wedding was lovely. And Grandma’s party was the biggest family reunion I can remember. I told one of my favorite Grandma stories at her party.

Smugglin’ Raccoons

I spent the summer of 1996 at with Grandma at the old farm house; it was the
summer between my two years of graduate school. We really got to know
each other better during the visit, since we hadn’t been able to see
each other frequently when I was growing up. I’m very thankful for the
experience. We had a few adventures that summer, including this one.

Raccoons repeatedly invaded the property all summer long. Grandma was kind enough to use a live trap to catch them, because she thought
poisoning or shooting them (as she and Grandpa had previously done)
would bother me. At one point, there were so many raccoons that there was one in the live trap every morning.

The downstairs tenant dealt with several of the raccoons,
releasing them many miles away from the property. He was really doing
us a favor, as catching and releasing wildlife carries a hefty fine.

Just when we thought we’d seen the last of the raccoons,
one more showed up in the trap; it was young and small. Grandma didn’t
want to trouble the tenant anymore, so we went on an "adventure."

The day was balmy and mosquito-y. Grandma put trap and raccoon
in the back of the old car, the biggest station wagon ever, and we made
a plan to drop it off somewhere. We drove up and down a few hills, and
through town. Now and then an older couple would drive by us and gave
that two fingered, blinky, "cops nearby" signal. Grandma was a little
nervous about running into the cops.

"This is Al Capone country" Grandma said, explaining how he’d
had a hideout on the river beside the road. Getting into the gangster
theme, she added, "Hehe, we’re smugglin’ raccoons!" in her cute Mississippi accent.

After about forty-five minutes, it started to get dark. Grandma
decided it was time to release the raccoon. She pulled over, got out of
the car, and started back toward the trunk. Just then, a set of
headlights appeared down the road. Grandma was startled, thinking it
might be the cops, and flattened herself against the car. I heard her
mutter "Nothing to see here, nothing to see."

With the car safely gone, Grandma decided this area was just
too risky. We drove another half hour, then pulled over again. We
pulled the cage out of the trunk and opened it, but the raccoon just
didn’t want to leave. Grandma held the cage upside down and shook it,
while I whacked the back of it for a while, before the raccoon crawled
finally hopped out and scampered away.

Thus ended our night of raccoon smuggling.

Kauai

Kauai was lovely.

The trip started with a
helicopter tour of the island.

Kauai has a
lot of different ecosystems for one little island — hot dry plains
with cacti; a mini Grand Canyon; the wettest place on earth, a huge green, waterfall filled canyon; and some of the most gorgeous jungle vegetation
we’ve ever seen. Lots of movies were shot there, including Jurassic
Park; Ben Stiller is shooting one now.

Shave ice is an island fave — basically a finely ground rainbow flavored slushee over ice cream with toppings like fresh coconut.

We spent a day riding ziplines and swinging on rope swings into a jungle pond; I got a nasty bruise from the latter.

And inner tubing down an old sugar cane irrigation ditch was way more pleasant than it sounds. A cool , gentle stream took us through some pretty jungle scenery, and our headlamps lit the way as we floated through tunnels dug through the mountains. Apparently Chinese immigrants dug some of the (extremely accurate) tunnels by hand. Incidentally, the land we tubed through is now owned by Steve Case.

And we returned to scuba diving for the first time in a year. During boat dives off the south shore, we saw brilliant schools of yellow tailed fish and a few sharks. On shore dives from the north shore, we swam through lava tubes and caverns with eerie skylights, and a turtle swam over our heads.

Later, I dove with a boat at Ni’ihau, a small, privately owned island near Kauai. Looking down, on my first descent, I almost landed on a big monk seal. After averting said seal, I watched him frolic; he was really performing for us. The water was quite clear, and the seascapes were massive, dramatic, and a little haunting. Some of the diving was along a giant cliff that extended so far down that we couldn’t see the base. Fish included the Hawaiian turkey fish, octopus, sharks, etc. On the last dive, my group swam simultaneously through a wide cavern, with air at the top where past divers had exhaled.

I took my first underwater pictures on these dives. View my not so professional shots here.