Today's quests

This was a full (and fulfilling) day! I started off having a sushi lunch with some friends, one of whom was visiting from MD and I hadn’t seen in over a year. Way too long. We chowed down some specialty rolls at Aya Sushi in San Carlos (specialty rolls are a bit expensive, but the serving sizes are huge, too).

After that it was off to Woodcraft in search of a special router bit. On my table the feet for the pedestal are 3.5″ thick. If I want to route the shape to a template for consistency, well, nobody makes a 3.5″ flush trim bit. But I was able to find a 2″ bit. The trick, supposedly, is that you start by tracing out the template pattern from the top down with a template cutting bit (bearing at the shank, near the router). Then you use the portion of the work that you’ve just routed as the template for the flush trim bit (which has a bearing at the tip).

Problem is, my one template cutting bit is only 1″ long (do the math), and for the life of me I can’t find longer ones. I was wondering why I can find a 2″ bit with the bearing at the tip, but not one with the bearing at the shank? Then it hit me – most folks who do template routing just use a “rub collar” mounted to the router’s base plate. You don’t really *need* a special bearing on your bit for that application. So all I really need is a straight bit that’s at least 1.5″ long, and a rub collar. Back to Woodcraft tomorrow for a set of collars. I have a spiral upcut bit that has exactly 1.5″ of cutting length, but I’m going to try to find a 2″ straight bit tomorrow. With luck, by tomorrow night I’ll have photos of nicely trimmed feet.

Oh, and my mortise attachment worked beautifully – I had to cut 1.25″ deep 1/2″ mortises through the top of the feet, and it cut like a dream. Mahogany is much easier to work all around – it’s softer and cuts/planes/drills well.

After buying a bit but before working on the table I decided to take a long mountain bike ride up Windy Hill preserve. I have a few rides that are “fitness milestones” – accomplishing them tells me I’m in a certain level of fitness. One has been climbing up Wilder Ranch to the top, crossing Empire Grade road, and coming back down through the UCSC campus. That ride is routine nowadays (thankfully). Windy Hill is my next level of challenge. After some initial climbing, there are 5 or 6 pitches of short, steep climbing. #3 is the worst – I stalled out near the top (my tire slipped, I lost momentum, and couldn’t start up again). On #4 I was starting to poop out when an attractive, athletic-looking hiker was coming down the hill. She yelled “be strong!” and who was I to argue? So what if I nearly puked my guts out once I crested the peak (and she was out of sight). 😉

#5 and #6 are gentler, and then there is just more climbing, hard to categorize discrete pitches. But I made it to the top! Haven’t done that climb in a couple of years. The ride back down was intense, and I realized I need to work on my downhill skills. The last time I did that ride, in fact, I went straight over the handlebars. My front wheel sank into a mud hole and the whole bike+rider just pivoted over it. Time like that I’m thankful for my years in Aikido – the falling reflexes are still there, somewhat.

Today I froze as I was going faster than I wanted down a really rutted section, braking was a little tenuous as the wheels wanted to lock up on the bumps, and I hit what I call the Holy S–t speed limit. That’s when you’re going faster than you feel confident about, you can’t slow down, and you also realize if you fall you’re really going to hurt yourself bad, so you have no choice but to stay upright and push through it, even if you go faster and faster. I first experienced this learning to cross-country ski – there was a huge hill on a golf course (thankfully, no fixed obstacles to hit), and when it iced up, I could hit the H S speed limit pretty regularly. Wiping out on ice is no fun.

So I survived that little brush with terror. I’ve heard that in the Sierras you can get a ski lift pass with your mountain bike for the day if you want to just charge down hills. I used to scoff at that idea, but as a skill-building day, that could be just the ticket. I don’t ride frequently enough that just plain riding is going to build those skills. I really need to focus and practice a bit.

I made it back down, stopped at a Jamba Juice and vegged to the newspaper on the way home. Something about that post-workout euphoria that almost feels like being mildly stoned. I’m aware of the “chatter” in my head subsiding significantly. I feel relaxed and at peace, but am also aware that I’m not as “sharp” as I usually feel. It really is like having a few beers. The little self-critical voice is wagging its finger at me, but hey, it results from healthy activity, and wears off after a while.

Tomorrow’s mission is to accomplish template routing the table feet. If I do anything after that it’ll be a bonus. I’m tentatively planning on dinner with my friends and then perhaps a “game night” at one of their houses. It’ll be nice to have my dining room set done so that *I* can host a game night sometime!

Oh, random factoid for you Greyhound lovers (I had a Greyhound with my ex, but after we split up she kept her) 😦 My friend’s Greyhound was really sick, had a fluid-filled mass in its gut, the vets diagnosed all sorts of varieties of cancer, etc. Things were looking grim. But, the symptoms didn’t quite all add up to what cancer should have. Turns out this vet was “doggedly determined” (pun intended) to solve the mystery, drew some fluid, and sent it to her mentor down at Texas. By a lucky coincidence, the sample contained the culprit – a fungus that causes Valley Fever. It’s indigenous to the southwest, particularly Arizona. But a lot of racing Greyhounds pass through Arizona during their careers, and so can contract this from the soil. It’s really hard to diagnose, apparently, if you’re not specifically looking for it. So if your dog spent any time in AZ and one day develops pretty serious cancer-like symptoms, be sure to have the vet test for Valley Fever as well.

Hopefully I’ll have a success story to post tomorrow!

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2 thoughts on “Today's quests

  1. Wow! Larry sounds like you are on the go! I've heard it is incredibly difficult to work with a router so pretty impressive. Love that you are pushing yourself bike riding. Don't you love it when you have someone encourage you at the right moment. What a nice story to hear about the Greyhound. A learning experience for the vet, so rare to find one that would truly research the symptoms. Have an awesome day!

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  2. Thanks, Heather! The router isn't really hard to work with – not sure where you might have come across that? Free-hand, of course, is hard with anything – it's a big, cumbersome tool to try freehand groove-cutting with. But I mainly use guides and a small router table to keep things simple. It's an awesome and flexible tool, though – I'm going to use it to cut some moulding for picture frames soon, too. Thanks for the biking encouragement – I've got to hook up with a good riding group like you have, just haven't gotten around to it yet.

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