Jan 26 2011

Improvements in Rehabilitation technology

I was leaving the hospital when I noticed the new Rehab equipment.

Jan 26 2011

Bi-folding metal gates design and build

As most projects and experiments do, this one began with a problem. I was determined to have to driveways in front of my house, but didn’t have the room for the gates.

Installing swinging gates was not an option. Swinging gates would require the vehicles to park far in enough so that they would have to clear the vehicle for then to close.

I got a few estimates and ot suggestions from fence contractors and they settled on what they knew best, rolling gates. Unfortunately, it looked great on paper, but when I actually measured it out, the criss-crossing gates were not going to look good with the cement columns.  One of the gates would have been about 3 ft from the sidewark.

So I figured, “OK, I’ll have to design them myself”.  And, inspired by the wooden closed bi-fold design, the mission began.  I originally had no intention to design them on the computer.  Once I realized that the wheel was not going to be mounted at the tip of the gate, and I had to make each half of the bifold a different size, I decided to draw it.  It’s easier to deal with mistakes on CAD than after welding, so I put some WD-40 on my Into to Solidworks skills, and went at it.  Once I started, I was hooked.  And this was the final product.

When I started to weld, I realized that I didn’t have a flat surface to weld on, and could make a perfect cube structure this way, so I designed a jig…

I poured and installed the tracks first, and built the gate to the tracks.  It took a lot of tweaking, but in the end they look great. 

…and after the driveways.

Once I can afford 4 swing motors (or until another ENG course teaches me how to make them), I’ll complete the set up.

Jan 26 2011

Ortho Dial N Spray with powder mix

How do I use powdered fertilizer, pesticide, etc with my Ortho Dial N Spray?  Simple, dilute the powder.  I had the same problem.  I had a box full of Miracle Gro All Purpose fertilizer, the ECONOMY box.  By the time I went through the first little baggy, I was tired of premixing in 5 gallon buckets.  I already owned the Ortho Dial N Spray, which I successfully used to murder my lawn before planting new grass.  That thing comes well recommended online and in person.  So how much to mix into this contraption?

For All Purpose Miracle Gro which uses a 1 tablespoon to 1 gallon ratio, simply:

1) Fill the Dial N Spray halfway with powder (16oz line)

2) Fill the rest with water (32 oz)

3) Stir or shake vigorously and make sure all of the powder has been diluted into the water.  We don’t want to clog the apparattus ; ).

4) Set the dial to 1oz.
Why this works:

Forget about the 16oz we added, this amount of water is negligible, when considering the gallons we’re pouring out in total.

When filled up to 32 oz, spraying at 1oz per gallon, the sprayer will spray a total of 32 gallons of water.  10z is 2 tablespoons.  This means with a full bottle, dialed at 1 oz, we will mix a total of:
32 gallons of water total, with 64 tablespoons of solution.
This is a 2TB/gal ratio (too much)

So by cutting the powder down to 16 oz, we’re left with:
32 gallons of water total (can’t change that), 32 tablespoons of solution.

Thus, 1 Tbsp Powder/ 1 Gal Water

General Formula:
Fill the reservoir with half-powder, half water.  Set the dial to twice the amount of powder recommended per gallon, and you’re done.   Assuming, of course, that the recommended amount is on the dial.

Remember 1 oz = 2 Tbsp = 6 Tsp.

Feel free to leave a comment if this helped, or if you have any suggestions on something to add.

Jan 20 2011

Les Stroud is a badass


Amen to that

Jan 20 2011

Cape Sable Expedition

Cape Sable is the one of the last remaining natural beaches in the United States.  While my heart is set on final frontiers like Alaska, my pocket will settle for the final frontiers and no-mans lands in my state.  Not only one of the last remaining beaches, but Cape Sable is considered to be the southernmost part of the United States landmass.  The Florida Keys are connected by man-made bridges, so “it don’t count”.  Anyways, being that I admire all things tradition and “the hard way”.  I decided to leave the boat at home, and see it like the Calusa indians did, by Canoe.

Two adventurers, one REALLY old canoe, one beach awating.  This trip was cooked up and supposed to occur in 2009.  At the time, I had my sailing canoe conversion in full effect, and could wait to send it off.  Some of the oth

er guys were getting kayaks, etc.  And as adventure plans usually go, everyone is excited, but not everyone follows through.  The drawing was made, everyone had their edge.  Mine was, my old canoe, loaded up with gear, with a PolyTarp sail.  Another was taking his boat (cheater), and another was taking his kayak with a downwind sail…

So that’s as far as that trip went.  It was rescheduled for 2010, and by the time December came around, 3 people canceled, and then there were two.  As usual, I was juggling things, so after laying two pallets of grass, and preparing my front yard and driveways for permit inspections the day before, I packed at the last minute, slept 3 hours, and was off.

At this point we used my sailing canoe, without any sailing gear, since my leeboard thwart snapped in the shallows about a month before.  But equipped with a couple of Kayak paddles, we loaded that sucker up with cans, water, jerky (what else do you ned in life right?!), live shrimp, etc.  and were on our way out of Flamingo, Everglades National Park. Day 1.

Day 1 Begin
We checked in with the ranger, loaded up, got an encouraging comment from a local fisherman “both of you, and all that stuff in that canoe? brave men, I’ll tell ya”. And we were gone.  The ranger mentioned it might not be a good idea to cross through the inside of the island, because of the tide, but we were pioneers, so we decided to play it by ear.

Mud Flats
Low and behold, we got stuck in the mud flats.  It took both of our efforts to push at the same time, to move 1 foot at a time.  Tide was gettin lower, so unless we were going to camp in the mud, we needed to get outta there.  An hour and a half later, exhausted, and paddles creaking from the force, we made it out.  Aimed for the first Cape (which we thought was Cape Sable) and went for it.  After we got around the first bend, we realized that this 3 hour paddle after the flats wore us down, was only a halfway point.  So we took a 15 min. break.  Give or take 20 minutes to heat up some soup :).

After that, we set off for the real Cape Sable (East Cape).  Following an ohur long attempt at moving, against wind and tide, it felt like we were going nowhere, and the flats really wore us down, and <cue some more excuses>, so we decided to pull back in for camp.

First Camp
First camp was nice, but windy, I had to make stakes out of nearby wood and hammer them deep into the soft sand to keep the tent from flying away.  We caught some small catfish and a redfish, and ate it for dinner with some soup.  I took the guts and put them into some crawfish traps I had which I opened up to make crab traps and left them for the night.  In the morning, the tide went down about a block away from us.  The traps were washed up on land and had crabs, and the shrimp were in a mud puddle but miraculously still alive.  We heaved the canoe through the mud/quicksand, and were off again.  We had a nasty cold front come in that weekend.  It was great for rowing, but bad for sleeping.  Especially since all of my clothes and my sleeping bag, and change of clothers (sweats) were all moist.

Destination Cape

We left at daybreak and arrived at East Cape in about 3 hours.  We had the rest of the day to relax, make fire, fish, and best of all, DRY CLOTHES. It was indeed a breathtaking view.  The beach was covered in shells. Corals of all kinds of colors would wash up on shore, some still in their soft, jelly-like state.  Inland was very thick, and an extra day would have been necessary to explore it.  As with most situations when I spend a lot of time away from civilization, boredom sets in, and self-entertainment is necessary.  Thus was the purpose of the pelican feather.  Which I forgot I had on and almost made it to the marina with it on.  It happens.

Final Camp
At night, the full moon made the beach visible with little or no light.  Little black critters moved in the distance, which turned out to be racoons scoping the area.  At about 1 in the morning, we were awakened to a racoon reaching in the shrimp bucket and enjoying the rest of my live shrimp.  The fishing wasn’t all that good from the shore, but I’m sure a little East into calmer water would’ve been good.  Then again at aroun 3:30AM, the same coon was trying to get inside the tent (where all the food was).  He was shood away finally settled down.  We made a big fire the last night to celebrate and get warm, because come morning, we were shooting for all the way home.

East Cape campsite

Rowing Home
Setting off about 5:30AM, I would divide the trip back into three segments.  Getting past the canal took what seened like forever to pass.  Then we hugged the shoreline and made it to the halfway point.  The successful method was picking points in the shore and setting goals and rewards.  “When we get to swan log, well eat an apple”.  “When we get around the halfway bend, I will brin out the jery, etc.”  I believe it was that, that mentally got us through an entire day of rowing.   For lunch, one person rowed while the other had a 20 min. lunch break.  We ran aground 15 minutes away from the channel with the marina in site.  But the tide was going up this time.  So not pushing through, or getting off and pulling like last time.  This time we relaxed, I carefully heated a soup on my little Coleman stove, and before we knew it we were floating again.

Ariving at the marina, we got a few remarks from tourists about the canoe, but other than that, it was a regular day in the park after that.  The trip was over, It felt like a huge accompishment, and I feel proud to have see such a pristeen beach, unsculpted by man.

Jan 19 2011

Image Resizer solution for Windows

Found this quick tool if you need to resize a bunch of jpegs fast. Just right-click, select the size and you’re done. Has the option to copy or replace the old pictures.


Jan 19 2011

Ghost Orchid Expedition

If you want to find the elusive Ghost Orchid, you’re gonna have to get wet.  Hiking the cypress swamps of the Florida Everglades, you’ll come a cross a few Gators, and some moccassins may pass by, but don’t worry.  Don’t be afraid to slosh around in the swamp and be ready to get that tripod wet for the perfect shot…

Getting Wet for the Ghost Orchid


Check out some of my Ghost Orchid shots in the Gallery.

Jan 17 2011

Florida Trail Map

This map was handed to me by a helicopter pilot that was a member of the park ranger service for the Everglades.  Until then, I had not found a map, as detailed, for North side of the Florida Trail pertaining to Big Cypress.  He told me it was handed down to him, so I took some pictures of it and handed it back.  I photo-shopped them together and this is the product.  Please leave a comment if this map helps you or if you know where I can find some more of it.

Detailed Map of the Florida Trail Coordinates

Florida Trail Map

Jan 17 2011

Florida Trail Hike

One day a group of us decided to hike miles 9-27 of the Florida Trail.  At the time, we couldn’t find a detailed map concentrating on that point of the trail.   After spending years hunting loop unit with my father since I was a little kid, this seemed like a good idea.  I knew the terrain as far as snakes and ‘gators, but what none of us knew, was that an estimated 10 miles on Google maps turned out to be a weaving 16 mile hike….During a bone-dry season…through dry, bare, mucky, cypress land, and shadeless pine land.  It was beautiful, and this is our story.

Day 1
We started in from the Tamiami Trail Entrance and went North.  Covered maybe two miles before it started to get dark, and decided to relax, and set camp.  If anything was to go wrong or someone forgot something, this was the place to find out.  First camp night went fine, not too many mosquitoes.

Day 2
Up at daybreak, some cereal and processed milk for me, and we were on our way.  This was probably the best day of the hike.  The scenery was beautiful, lots of greens. At this point, overall morale was still positive up until the end of
the day.

Day 2 (con’t)
Eventually, the sun began to beat down hard enough, and the walking became tiring enough that some people began to consider turning back.  This was around the 5th mile down, at the 13 mile camp.  Remember, we thought it was a 10 mile hike.  So there was no point in turning back, not ONLY for pride, but for common sense.  About two miles down trail, walking through Slash Pinelands, we needed another break.  The sun was beaming strong, after all, it was April.  Some slept, some entertained themselves, some basked like if it was Miami Beach.  We were in the middle of it now, it was hot, water was being consumed, and we still had a lot more miles to cover if we were going to do this in 2 nights.

Day 2 (con’t)
A few miles later, we decided the sun was too much, and since we had a moon, we were going to hike at night.  The only thing to worry about was snakes.  I figured if we walked one behind the other, we would be OK.  I was used to getting on and off tree stands in the dark and walking blocks in Loop unit.  And we were making so much of a ruckus tripping on stumps, and coral holes, and palmettos, that I figured any snake hanging around would get the heck out of the way.  So I walked in front, with a flash light pointing forward.  And realised something, you can’t see the orange blazes of the trail at night, let alone the trail itself! LOL.  We covered a mile that night.  I don’t know how, I was on autopilot, but we did.  I followed what made sense to be a walked trail and it worked.  But after a mile, it all looked the same, so to not get really turned around in there, we set base camp.  At this point everyone realised that we were not going to make it out on schedule.  And to make matters worse, water began to run short for some.

Short on water, not getting out in time, and not looking forward to a long hike, the majority rule in the group was to call for help.  So a phone call was made, and help was going to be sent.  Speaking for myself, I didn’t want to be lifted out of there for reasons of pride and pocket, so I called dispatch and told them we were NOT in an emergency state, and that if it came to it, we would go and get help.

I guess they ignored me (or wanted to make sure I wasn’t a psycho) so they sent a chopper to look around.  In the middle of the night, we heard it fly over and land nearby.  They brought us some MRE’s and some water.  Morale was back up, were were ready to take one more day and finish the trail.

Day 3
The day started strong.  Just cover the distance and finish was the motto.We said goodbye to the pine lands and made are way through the cypress mud.  By 12:00, the sun was beating us from the top, and the normally cypress wetland, was sticky mud.  At that point we were taking 15 minute breaks every hour.  One of the members couldn’t go any further, and a few miles later, we stopped to set up camp.  He was feeling sick, and majority rule was to call for help.  So we waited.

First, a chopper came by and dropped off a  gallon jug of water. An hour later, it came back around, but couldn’t land in the cypress.  So they dropped off a couple of rangers who cut a clearing for it to land by us.  They took our weakened member and came for us in the morning.

Day 4
We woke up strong and waiter for the helicopter in the morning after breakfast They came, and asked we we were ready to go.  I said, “yea, ready to walk out of here”.  After a few nasty looks from the rest of the party, the ranger felt it was more important for us to do what’s needed then what we wanted.  And “getting back to work” was a want.  So we took a few pictures, they flew off, and we were on our way again.

Less than a mile down, lush, green, vegetation and water appeared.  A little further down, we took our last break, enjoyed a snack, the scenery, and continued down the trail.

In the end it was an accomplishment, and though as a group we were unprepared for the walk, it was worth while, and I’d recommend it.  In the winter : ).

Jan 17 2011

Split-Tail Lizard

Looks like this is what happens when the tail gets damaged, but not completely severed.