Friday, August 29, 2014


It's interesting when you're doing research for a story. Sometimes you run across things like this.

Now do I think Ivar was someone who had brittle bone disease? I don't know. While it is plausible I doubt it. Nonetheless I felt the documentary held some rather interesting concepts as to why he was nicknamed "the boneless." Personally I like the one where he probably had gigantism.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Viking Sun Compass

    One of the things I came across in my research of how the Vikings went from place to place are sun compasses. Apparently a couple of examples were found in some of the archaeological digs. Here's an image from one of the documentaries I was watching.

     I had to try and create one to test out the concept. I selected a small piece of plywood and attached screw in the middle. For the marks I'm just using a sharpie marker. Where I have it at so that I can get to it easily is on my porch railing.

     Here's after a few hours. While I'm not trying to mark it very precisely I'm able to get what north is in general. Where the red line is the closest to the screw would be the place it intersects with the north south axis. You'd simply draw a long line from that place through the screw. From then on you'd have a compass of a sort to use. You'd also have to make them several times per year depending on how long your voyages happened to take.
     Quite a fascinating bit of technology and history.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Long Boat

     This is what I've started working on. Parts of the story are loosely based upon the Viking sagas. I've been interested in it for a long time. Leif Erickson, and his father, Erick the Red will be central to parts of my story line just as they are in the Vinland and Greenland sagas. Because some of the sagas don't cover the timeline in depth I'm having to fill in bits here and there just like everyone that's written stories surrounding the sagas. Then again, I think the writers of the sagas filled in a bit here and there. 
     Of course, the sagas were written down about two or three hundred years after the events they were writing about and they consist of what had been spoken tales. There's a good chance that things were added to make for exciting campfire tales. Regardless, there's still a kernel of what really happened.
     Where I'm trying to be totally accurate is the actual historical archaeological evidence from the time. As a result I've been heavily studying Norse shipbuilding techniques and how they built their homes. So far I've learned a lot. I'm not sure I would want to hoist one of those felt sails for one. It would be kind of neat to actually do some of the carpentry though, it was amazing what they could do with hand drills, planes, axes, and draw knives.
     It's been many years since I first heard about L'Anse aux Meadows and the short term settlement that was there. Since then it's been proven it actually was a Norse settlement. I believe when I was reading through the sagas where the place is actually mentioned. Based on, both the sagas, and the archaeological dig it was never permanently settled. After reading a bit through the sagas I do understand why it would be short. Leif, and company, didn't treat the natives very well. I'm sure I would have been a bit upset too. Still, it's fun exploring it a bit.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Added a window.

     If you remember about a week ago I built a new back door. The idea was that I wanted greater energy efficiency long term. In this image you can see the old door underneath the bedroom window. You can also see the new door installed. It works really well but there was one detraction. If someone was knocking on it you had to open the door to see who was there. I write things like that where the person you don't want to meet is on the other side.
     I'll note that on the old door you could see frost that had collected on the inside during the winter. If you're seeing frost built up it's not a good thing. If cold is coming in you also have heat going out. A simple concept to understand from physics is that no matter what the surface is the temperatures will try to equalize on both sides of a surface. It kind of transfers. They'll try to become the same temperature and so heat will transfer to a cold area and vice verse. Why you insulate is to eliminate the transference if at all possible. Usually you're eliminating air movement.
     Now so care is required for window placement. It's not like I want someone smashing out the new glass and reach the door locks. Sorry, that's not secure. It required some thought on where I would place the new window as a result. Very quickly I decided double glazed was the only way to go. Roughly double glazed windows are four time more efficient that single glazed windows are. For one, you one have two panes of glass, second you have an air space that doesn't move.

     It took a lot of thought to create something that would work well for the intended purpose. That's one of  the reasons why my writing came to an end for the time being though I am researching for a project that centers around the Vikings in Newfoundland. One of the things I was thinking about is someone taking a hammer and smashing out the glass, reach in open the lock. Somehow that doesn't work for me. Of course, I write nutballs that would do such a thing and come into your house to kill you. Yes, that's the kind of nightmares I have to tell you the truth.
     I priced around new energy efficient windows. They are around $300 each which is not in the budget. Since that's extremely expensive so I started to look for a different solution. After much thought I finally came up with what seemed to be perfect There was a window in the old door. The mechanism no longer worked for opening the window, and honestly, it wasn't very energy efficient. Each of the panes was about 6 inches by 15 inches. That's a good size I felt. Here the panes are drying after their first bath. It was a literal pain to get them out of the aluminum framework. 
     The screws at the corners didn't want to loosen up. Then again the original window was over 40 years old. Finally I succeeded and got the panes out of the aluminum framework.

     Here I was testing out some various methods of spacers. There were a lot that were ejected rather quickly. Using some of the left over 1/8" plywood was one of them.

     With the glass ready for use I had to have a new frame to hold it in place. Of course with the requirements I had you need a spacer of some kind. It's not important if the spacer is all that precision made. It just needs to be about the same for the length. Sealer will make up the difference. There is also the fact it doesn't expand or contract all that much with temperature. 

Here's the framework put together and has begun to dry. The pieces of wood for the frame were reused when I cut the door to size. I figured they were already the right thickness.

     Here I've assembled the glass panes. The sealant hasn't dried yet.

     I've installed the window here. It will take a day or so for the window to dry effectively before I add the molding. 

     If all goes well I'll have the most energy efficient home built back door window as you can get. I really don't want to pay to heat up the exterior of the house. For further ideas you can get a copy of my Offsets and Savings book. It's available in many of the major e-book stores.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Fatalem Amor

Walking through the darkness
Drawn to her presence
Moonlight casting about
My heart begins to pound
Full of fear and loathing
All the while knowing
I can not turn away
Or run the other way
Once again she will drink
Blood is our only link
I must beg her tonight
In the pale orbs light
To end my misery
Her cursed usury


Thursday, August 7, 2014

New back door

When we moved into this house the back door was one of the things that needed assistance. Finally, after almost four years I'm finally getting around to doing something about it. Please note I'm no longer a good woodworker though I do seem to be a bit handy when I need to be. Here's the way it looked. Since it didn't seal very well there had always been a tendency for the hallway, and our bedroom, to be cool during the winter. Sometimes the door would get covered with frost on the inside. If a door is getting covered with frost that means there are heavy energy losses there. I'm not exactly flush with cash so I made a new door from scratch.

Here's the rough opening with the door removed.

So that I could have something reasonable to attach to in the doorway I added a set of 1 x 4's. It functions in this case a bit like a door jamb.

Here's the top end with the 1 x 4's.

I made this frame for the door itself a couple of days ago. The 2 x 4's are recycled from another site. I used half lap joints at the corners. Unfortunately for me I don't have the means any more to make finger joints which would have been better.

Here's the doors framework filled with the styrofoam insulation fitted inside. I think this material is about an R-6 and I left the vapor seal intact on purpose.

A few hours later here it is ready for use. I still have some tweaking to do so that it will seal even better and operate more smoothly. It needs a coat of paint too.

Later I have plans to add a window in this door near the top. That's for later on though. I'll be double glazing it so that it will the most energy efficient it can be.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


    This year I am mostly growing flowers. There was some odd black cracks on the top of the tomatoes last year and it affected all three varieties. I figure it was something to do with the extensive herbicide use here. Last year I got some tomatoes for the first time. Round Up I think is bad stuff and I would never use it knowing now what I know. This year I'm growing mostly flowers as a result.

    In this section is where we'll be growing tomatoes again next year. I'm going to try bell peppers again also. 

    As you can see the blue wisteria is coming along well. Eventually it's supposed to reach a height of about eight feet and produce blue flowers. That can take up to ten years though. So are some of the morning glories. To the left is where the chamomile grew last year and I still have some of the dried flowers collected for tea.

This is the back garden. The Cosmos are coming in really well. They really add a bit of beauty to the place. Normally they attract a lot of bees but this year I'm not seeing any. I think some that live nearby had backyard hives so they could produce their own honey. It would make me very sad if CCD happened.

    Right now I'm looking at various drip irrigation systems for next year. There are a couple of them I really like so far. Water is going to be an even more serious issue in the future.