Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tech Tip Tuesday


I got a comment from a blog reader on a previous Tech Tip Tuesday that I did on some folding sawhorses for my class.  On the following Saturday, I posted the material list and the design.  This is that comment:

Blogger Peris said...
Great post. Your saw horses look wonderful and easy to make. My problem is that I want to make mine ar 94cm (37") tall and I don't know the formula you are using to determine the outer and inner legs height, and also where should I drill the holes. Your help would be greatly appreciated.

Well, we're going to dig into your high school trigonometry that you've all either forgotten or really want to forget.  It's fairly easy and the math isn't too scary.  This is all about triangles.

Let's take an end view of the sawhorses and what do we see?  A triangle.  The included angle between the legs is 40°.

But, we want to be able to change the height of the sawhorse legs to customize the original design.  We need to simplify things a bit more from our first triangle.  We know that it is symmetrical about a vertical line.  We wind up with a right triangle that is 20°:

Now we're going to strip away the left triangle that we don't need:

We know what we want to change for "X", but need to figure out what "Y" is.  So, we're going to refer to the Indian God of trigonometry as one of my teachers used to refer to them : Sohcahtoa.  That's a mnemonic to help remember the trigonometric equations:

SOH - Sine(angle) = Opposite ÷ Hypotenuse
CAH - Cosine(angle) = Adjacent ÷ Hypotenuse
TOA - Tangent(angle) = Opposite ÷ Adjacent

In this case we know the angle and the adjacent leg (X), so we'll use the Cosine function and solve for Y.  So, when we simplify the equation to solve for Y we get the following:

Y = X ÷ Cosine(20°)

Let's say we're making the sawhorses 9" taller, like Peris, so our X=9

Y = 9" ÷ Cosine(20°)

Y = 9.578"

So, Peris would want to add 9.578" (or the nearest fraction - 9-9/16") to the length of all of the legs and the distances for the hole locations.  He'll need to tweak the amount of material needed and because the legs are getting a bit tall and spindly, an additional support between the legs might be required and the position moved up or down.  I placed them where they "looked right" - about 1/3 up from the bottom and down from the top.

Have fun!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day

For whatever reason, paddlers seem to see lots of the horrors visited on our planet by our fellow man.  Particularly river paddlers - storms can cause rushing water to flush trash laying around into the rivers..  I have many times seen paddlers who go out for a paddle with a lunch, some rain gear, lifejackets and a few empty trash bags.  When they return, the bags are nearly full.    It's sad that people are such slobs to start with when it's easy to find a trash or recycling can and put things where they belong. 

That's just the visible trash.

Rivers, lakes and oceans have long been looked at as open sewers - whatever gets into the water will go away, right?  No - it doesn't.  Companies like GE have been working to clean rivers, lakes and land of chemicals that were dumped years and years ago.  It's unlikely that the rivers will ever be truly clean and safe again.

So, if you're out paddling and see trash floating in the river or as you're passing - stop - pick it up and properly dispose of it.  You won't have to see the trash the next time you're paddling there and neither will others.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth Adams

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


There really are no words for the type of horror inflicted at the Boston Marathon's finish line yesterday.  It was a cowardly attack on the people of Boston and visitors from around the world.  As with most events like this, time will tell who, what and why this happened, which is of little comfort to the families and friends of the three dead and over 140 injured by the blasts.

So, for today, the best that we can offer from "West a Woostah..." is our support for the people there.


Monday, April 15, 2013

File Yet?

 From the Seattle Times:

Its tax day and the 100th birthday of the 1040 form

Americans have until midnight tonight to turn over a percentage of their incomes to the government. Not exactly something to break open the Champagne bottle over, but there are cheers from students in Mr. Haynes’ history class at JFK Middle School in Florence, Mass. They knew something few of us knew, or would think to acknowledge when they sent birthday cards to to the Internal Revenue Service. This year is the 100th year of the 1040 form. Happy Birthday 1040!

To grasp how far the U.S. tax code has come, the first 1040 form in 1913 was a single page. The federal tax code today extends 73,000 pages. Back then, only 3 percent of the American population had to pay Uncle Sam, today it’s 54 percent.

More history, including that “shipwreck” was at one time a deduction, was part of this excellent CBS Sunday Morning piece.

Taxes have been around since the beginning of civilization. The conversation around taxes is not just about who must pay, but who should but does not. Action film actor Wesley Snipes just got out of jail after three years in prison for not paying his taxes. And the Boston Globe cites a new study by the National Taxpayer Advocate that found potential tax cheats identified by the IRS live mainly in the South and the West. The study used confidential IRS data and included  small-business owners.

History is full of tax resisters and protesters, the latter included most famously, Mohandas Ghandi disobeying the British salt production and laws.  And this Washington Post piece topples the greatest myths about taxes.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Why do I feel this was written by Monty Python?


Fisherman in Belarus bleeds to death after beaver attack  

A man from the city of Brest was bitten in the thigh, which severed an main artery, during a trip with two friends at Lake Shestakov.

A fisherman was savaged to death by a beaver after going up close to try and take its picture.
The man, visiting from the city of Brest, who has not been named, was viciously attacked during a trip with two friends at Lake Shestakov in Belarus.

Sky News reports he spotted the animal at the side of the road and decided to take its photograph.
But the beaver pounced, sinking its pointed fangs into his thigh — which severed a main artery and caused him to bleed to death.

The man's friends tried to stem the flow of blood but it was no use.
Experts say beaver attacks are rare, and that the ones that do attack humans are usually rabid.

(ed - With big nasty pointy teeth?)


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Monday, April 1, 2013

Boy Scouts to Limit Knife-Blade Length


In an edgy decision, the BSA sets limit on knife-blade length

Knives. They may be the source of the most confusion within Scouting circles.

I’ve heard people tell me sheath knives are banned in Scouting (they’re not), that Scouts can only carry one knife (not true), or that blades can’t be longer than five inches (wrong again).

Today, though, BSA Health and Safety team lead Richard Bourlon announced a new knife policy that changes things a bit. For the first time in the organization’s history, the BSA is mandating a maximum blade length for knives used within Scouting.

The magic number:

60 inches. The policy is effective beginning today, April 1, 2013.

So grab your tape measures, Scouters, because bladed objects used at the unit level now must be no longer than five feet. If you forget your tape measure, consider identifying a Scout who’s five feet tall, hold the blade vertically, and ask him to stand next to it.

“The hope is that we cut down on the number of Scouts carrying blades that are longer than they are tall. That can get unwieldy,” Bourlon says. “We also heard from some Scout leaders who simply didn’t have space in their compact cars to transport a half-dozen six- or seven-foot blades to the state park every month for troop campouts.”

Bourlon says he understands some Scouts might think bringing their medieval longswords to a Scout event would be fun. “Believe me, I loved Braveheart as much as the next guy,” he says, “but we have to put safety first.”

Along those lines, Bourlon wants to remind everyone about the “blood circle” — that no-go zone any Scout with a Whittling Chip should know about. When someone’s using a knife, nobody else should come within that circle.

“But it expands the larger your blade is,” Bourlon says, “so with those seven-foot blades we were forcing Scouts to stand hundreds of feet apart.”

What’s next for the Health and Safety team? In the coming months, Bourlon hopes to officially limit the number of helmets that can be worn simultaneously to one.