Archive for March, 2011

I got a bunch of books on straw bale building back before we starting building the cabin. Part of the reason was to educate myself in this great building method and another was to get design ideas.  Our cabin is being stick built due to speed and convenience (I have been building it single handed)  If and when the time comes to build the bigger house at the ranch it will most likely be  a modified Earthship type structure with heavy earth berming,  using ICF construction.

So after reading through most of these and extracting the Info I am offing them up for sale at 50% of the cover price…plus media rate shipping at cost…buy 1 or buy them all.  All of these books are in Mint to new condition.



More Strawbale Building $34.95…..your price $17.50

Design of Straw Bale Buildings…$40….your price $20

Strawbale home plans …list $24.95….your price $12.50

The new Strawbale home  (hardcover)  $39.95…your price $20

If you buy more than one shipping will be cheaper…per book.

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Tsunami Video

My hope and heart goes out to all of those affected

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Produce 101

Check out Challenge #1

I ran a few errands today in preparation for my truck heading into the shop tomorrow.  On the list was a visit to the supermarket to pick up  few days worth of vittles.  As I got to the check out I noticed a new guy keying up people’s purchases.  This kid seemed to be High school age or early 20’s, (it’s getting harder for me to tell…it been such a while since I was that age).  The laser scanner was working fine and everything was going fine until he got to the end of my small cart.  He managed the white onion OK…and looked up the code…The more experienced checkers know the routine codes by heart so I cut him some slack. But when He asked me what are those…I had a second take…”what” I said…” Uh that’s garlic”…

How can a kid survive that far into life and not recognize this most basic item?  Is this the end of society ..or just one of the countless masses who live off of Happy Meals and frozen pizza.  It’s not like I had an odd ball collection of exotic Asian produce…Bok Choy, Leeks, or even scallions or fennel…Tomatillo or artichokes or maybe even a pomegranate.

My garlic was destined for the homemade spaghetti sauce.  This round included Italian sausage with Merlot, Asiago cheese and sun-dried tomatoes, adding a bit if kick is some Chorizo Sausage, plus Onions, and Mushrooms and of course the fresh garlic.  This will be served over ziti….I’m getting hungry writing about it…time to go check the sauce.

Italian Sausage with Merlot, Asiago cheese and Sun-dried Tomato

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A few weeks ago Tori picked up a “Travel Banjo” from our local music store.  She has been playing the Banjo I Built a number of years ago for some time now…and I’m happy to say its nice to hear it being played.  She has gotten pretty good with it and switched over to “claw-hammer” playing.


Hooks on top of tension hoop



The new travel banjo is something that we can take to the cabin and on camping trips without too much worry about bringing the fancy one.  The new banjo uses hooks that set on top of the tension hoop, while the hook and hoop configuration of the one I made has cut outs in the hoop.  The first hook on the travel banjo was troublesome with the claw-hammer stroke.


I pulled everything apart and notched the hoop to allow the hook to set down a bit.  During this process I also noticed that all of the hooks were a bit long in the thread..which caused the nuts to bottom out and limit the tensioning of the hoop.  So as part of the process I cut down all 18 hooks, cleaned up the threads with a 4 mm x .70 die and reassembled every thing.


recessed 1st hook


To help with a more mellow sound we set it up with  thicker set of strings, The new set is tuned with 16 ga as apposed to more traditional .09 or .10’s.  It felt good to be working in the shop on this repair/ upgrade.  Cutting down all of the hooks was a bit of a pain but at least now the hoop can be properly tensioned.



Hook with anti-seize compond applied to threads


Next up in my luthier adventures are finishing up the little ukulele, and starting a Appalachian Mountain Dulcimer.  I picked up some african Mahogany last week when I was at the fancy wood store getting some Hard maple for a clients desk project.


recessed hook back in place



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