Welcome! I am an engineer, programmer, designer, and gentleman. You may be interested in some of my electrical and mechanical projects. Take everything you read here with a grain of salt and remember to wear your safety glasses.

Theme Park at Home: Walt Disney World's EPCOT Floating Planters

After a couple of years of thinking about it, I built a floating planter, similar to the ones at WDW's EPCOT, and set sail with it on the lake my parents live on. Disney was kind enough to provide instructions in a book titled Secrets of Disney's Glorious Gardens, but I departed from this book in some significant ways, for instance, by adding an anchor system that allows us to bring the planter to shore for maintenance. Also, in the video I build a hot-wire cutter to make the styrofoam circles of the planter, a cutter equipped with a motorized rotary stage that turns it into something like a foam lathe.

The Amateur Scientist at Bookwise

Build yourself a cloud chamber from one of the lovely hand-drawn diagrams in The Amateur Scientist.

For years I've been pleased, every now and again, to browse the stacks of local used bookstore Bookwise, one of the sort-of-green spots in Boca Raton's semi-arid intellectual landscape. Despite the resident cat it's never been a very comfortable place to sit and read, maybe because I've always felt there an urgency to go through the place quickly and grab what I can. I never left Bookwise empty-handed, but I never felt there was enough time there.

Pure chance brought Samantha and I to its doors again on a recent Saturday when there really wasn't enough time anymore. We discovered that its owners were closing this location and moving at least some of the stock to their sister store Booksmart (which mostly sells textbooks to FAU students). Everything in the store was 30%–50% off. I asked the woman behind the counter when the last open day was and with the used bookstore's typical splendid disregard for good business practice she answered “maybe today”. I let my urgency run free.

Although I didn't leave with quite the arm-long stack that Sam assembled, I bought some pristine Everyman's Library volumes of de Tocqueville and Jefferson, Gleiser's The Island of Knowledge, and a history of the shipping container (The Box by Marc Levinson) that I'm actually quite excited to read.

But most exciting of all, I picked up C. L. Stong's 1960 collection of his “Amateur Scientist” columns from Scientific American for $1. One dollar! Originals like this one trade hands for more than $200, and as of this writing there's one listed on Amazon for $847! And it may be worth every penny of even those market prices. I badly wanted this book after coming across it in a library in my high school years. My family had a subscription to Scientific American and I used to read the Amateur Scientist particularly and obsessively; even though the 1980s and 1990s were the twilight of the column (which went though a hiatus in the early nineties before ceasing publication altogether in 2001) you could still find there some absolutely bonkers projects.

Seattle LEP XXXV Logo Design

Lääneranniku Eesti Päevad XXXV Seattle 202X

My design has been chosen as the official emblem of the 35th LEP, the Lääneranniku Eesti Päevad or West Coast Estonian Days. The logo contest was conducted blind and said to be fiercely fought with 28 submissions in total. Winning in such company is an honor.

Only one change was requested by the Seattle organizing committee: that I remove the planned-for "2021" as they have been forced to make the unfortunate but necessary decision to delay LEP because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Among the several workarounds I tried I like this "202X" one the best.

Please read more about the symbolism and inspiration behind this design, and see some interesting variations of it for different applications, in the proposal document I prepared for the contest.

See you in Seattle, hopefully in 2022!

Door-Mounted Pot Lid Hangers and a Return to YouTube

As part of my overall quest to push back the chaos in my kitchen and elsewhere, I made some lid hanger bars out of oak for my pot and pan cabinet. This represents something of a new beginning for me: it's a return to uploading videos to YouTube, but at a much higher level of quality, length, and I hope, entertainment value. This is also a sort of debut of my newly revamped home workshop; I was lucky enough to acquire quite a lot of new tools and machines early in 2020 and I've been integrating, improving, and setting those up ever since. Now it's time to actually make a few things, and hopefully get some interesting videos and other documents out of the experience. Enjoy!

The Margarita-19

Finding myself recently in need of vitamin C and ethanol—for medicinal reasons—and like so many others stuck at home with supplies running low, take-out burritos cooling on the kitchen table, and a bar equipped with almost, but not quite exactly, the right mix of bottles, I improvised a little on the classic recipe and made this extremely smooth drink, which I'm calling the Margarita-19:

  • 2 oz. añejo tequila (I used a far-too-nice Azuñia better suited to sipping neat)
  • 3/4 oz lime juice, fresh squeezed as always (things aren't quite that bad yet)
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 1/4 oz Maraschino liqueur
  • lime wheel to garnish

Rub the remains of the squeezed lime on the rim of a rocks glass, then dip it into kosher salt and carefully fill it with ice, trying not to knock all the salt off. Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice, shake vigorously, and strain into the prepared glass. Garnish and enjoy.

To your continued good health!

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