Thursday, December 20, 2012

Guns and School Shootings

Everyone is horrified when someone takes a firearm and uses it for evil purposes.  As a gun owner,  as with most other gun owners,   we realize that the right to own a gun is a tremendous responsibility.    We would never imagine using our guns to cause this type of harm on anyone.     At worse,   we imagine there may be a time when we need to use a gun to defend ourselves from someone wishing to do harm on us or our families.  With violence in society seemingly getting worse,   we fear we won't be able to protect ourselves.    

When someone abuses a privilege,   the privilege is always at risk of being taken away.   As gun owners,   we are always thrust into defending our right because it comes under fire as people try to connect the dots and try to find some sort of blame -- and a solution.  

As emotions run rampant,  on both sides of the debate,   it is  impossible to convince either side that one is more right than the other.     Often,   the side that is more vocal wins the argument.    

For those that believe that no one should own a certain type of gun,   or have high capacity magazines,   I can only assure you that those who own those do not wish anyone harm.  I should say,  the VAST majority don't.  Having a gun doesn't make you a crazy person.  If society was as bad as people think,  and owning a "military style"  gun was the problem,   then we'd certainly see more,   probably hundreds more cases where people went on rampages on a daily basis.   We just have to keep that in perspective.  

I'm not trying to downplay the tragedies-  they were heart-breaking and gut-wrenching.   We as gun owners must do our part and secure the guns,  and educate people that safety and respect for the right is extremely important.   The shooting in Newtown and the one at the mall in Oregon were the result of people obtaining (stealing)  the guns  from careless owners. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Not So Sunny California

I think most people who have never been to California have misconceptions about this state.  We can spend hours talking about the politics and people here,   and you probably won't get much of an argument from me.   But  let's talk about the weather.

California is a pretty big state and since it covers such a broad latitude,   the weather varies quite a bit,  depending on what part of the state you are in.     Where I live,  which is about in the center of the state,   it is a large valley that is like a big bath tub.   In the winter,   we will get storms rolling in from the north and that brings some rain.   Not a lot,  as this is a pretty dry area still.   Usually after even a light rain comes through,   that is followed by a few days of fog.    This time of year,   we don't see a lot of sun.   If it isn't foggy,  then it is overcast. 

High speed cameras work better with more light so even when it is overcast,  it can be too dark to film in.   This is frustrating because I usually have a lot of ideas to film but just can't do them.   So I have to film indoors using my LED spotlights or wait for a rare sunny day.  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Project in the works: Mercury Hourglass

I am always trying to think up projects I can do with mercury.   A few months back I thought it would be neat to take an ordinary hourglass and replace the sand with mercury.   It would probably look beautiful.   I did a Google search to see if anyone has done this before so I could see what it would look like but did not find anything.    

A week or so ago I started to actively look for an hourglass on ebay that would work for this project.   The problem with ebay these days is that a LOT of stuff comes from sellers in China or Hong Kong.    I  tried to buy from a Chinese seller one time,  one of those keychain cameras,  and that did not go very well.   I never got the camera so I promised never to buy from a seller in China again.   Stick with U.S.  sellers and avoid the high shipping costs and scams. 

I found a perfect 30 minute hourglass that was actually affordable.  The seller was located in California so that meant quick shipping.    The hourglass I found was $10 with $7 shipping so I bought one.   It looked nice,   mounted in a square wooden frame and stood about 7" tall or so.   In less than a week it arrived in a neat,  well-packaged box- unbroken.   

When I tapped on the hourglass,  it sounded like it was made of plastic.    That meant it would be easier to drill a hole in the end if it was plastic.  I figured out a way to break apart the wooden frame without damaging it using a bit of clever leverage.   I  had to be careful not to break the hourglass or damage the frame since I needed to remount it in it.  

Once I had the hourglass free,   I started to file on the end of the hourglass and discovered it WAS made out of glass afterall.    I had to switch from the fine mill file to my Harbor Freight diamond files.   It probably took close to an hour of filing  before the glass was thin enough to pierce it with a piece of metal.   I originally planned to buy some small diamond drills and drill it but  after some thought,   I thought it was safer to take it slow and file it.  The glass is quite thin an it would be a shame to smash the thing. 

Next step is to drain the sand out.    I will probably put around 32 ounces of mercury in the hourglass.   I need to clean the mercury well to remove the dross that is on top of some of my mercury.  If I don't do this,  it may deposit the oxides and other contaminants on the inside of the glass and ruin the look.  

I'm really curious how fast the mercury will fall through the hourglass.   The sand took 30 minutes.  I think the mercury will be closer to 30 seconds.    Well see.