Wednesday, September 26, 2007

He made what?!?

The Hairy One brought this home from school today; it's from a DOE info sharing project called "Lessons Learned". My eyebrows are still up at my hairline.....

Eryn says, "DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!!!"
(Or you deserve a Darwin Award!)

Fireball from Aluminum Grinding Dust

Date: September 21, 2001

Identifier: 2001-RL-HNF-0036

Lessons Learned Statement:
Aluminum grinding dust can create a serious explosive fire hazard when it is mixed with steel or iron grinding dust.

Discussion of Activities:
A safety coordinator at the Esso Oil Company plant in Longford, Australia, was using a belt grinder in his home workshop to smooth the edge of a hacksaw cut on a 2" length of 1.5" angle iron. He had been grinding for about 1.5 to 2 minutes when there was a loud "THUMP" accompanied by an approximately 2-foot diameter brilliant yellow orange fireball. The fireball lasted no more than 1 second and then completely extinguished itself. It completely enveloped the machine, his hands to half way up his forearms, and the front of his torso.

Injuries included deep second-degree burns to about 60% of the victims' left hand and 50% of his right hand and first degree burns to his neck, chin, cheeks, lips and the end of his nose. The right cuff of his shirt was smoldering, his face felt a burning sensation, and he could hear the front of his hair sizzling. Nothing on the bench was burning. A few streaks of white powder were deposited on the bench top and on a few items lying on the bench. The workshop was filled with dense white smoke with very little odor. His finders and the ends of his thumbs escaped relatively unscathed as they were protected from the heat flash. He was wearing glasses, which protected his eyes. He also lost half his mustache, one of his eyebrows, and about 1 inch off the front of his hair. His eyelashes were curled by the heat but not singed. The burns to his face were caused solely by radiant heat, as the fireball did not come that high.

A few days before the event, the man's son had ground the heads off about twelve aluminum pop rivets. Finely divided aluminum mixed with finely divided ferrous oxide (the black powder residue from grinding steel) produced a compound called thermite. Thermite is used to fill incendiary bombs and is used commercially to weld large steel items. It burns at approximately 3500C (6300F), hence the extensive burns from such a short exposure time.

Recommended actions:
The victim recommended that the manufacturer of the grinding wheel should include a very strong warning about the dangers posed by grinding steel after having ground aluminum. That warning should include precautions to thoroughly clean the grinding machine of all aluminum dust before grinding iron or steel.

The rest of the report can be seen here.

This is hilarious to me! This is supposed to be this serious warning against letting your slobby kids use your grinder written by a gov't agency. Keep in mind that I work in a gov't office; I know how they write reports. I don't think I could have written this up without a major rib injury! I especially love the fact that they point out that the victim lost half his mustache.

Stuff like this is why science is awesome! And yet more proof that people are intrinsically stupid.....

Warning, snarkiness follows

This post will have nothing to do with knitting, soaping, blog-stalking, or general craftiness. This post is pure snark.

Today at work I get this (must be read in super bubbly voice – and yes, I know I’m queen of bubbly, but this was a lot even for me!):

To: QueenBee
From: ReallyExcitedWorkerBee

Hi Eryn! Could you send this out global? I am really excited and want everyone to know!

Blah blah blah about this month’s walk for your favorite charity, team info, please help….


Thank you,


So I clean it up and forward to all employees. Now I’ve done this before and I know the drill: I make sure the date and name of the walk are in the Subject line; I start the email with “ReallyExcitedWorkerBee is the point of contact for all questions” in huge freaking blue letters; I make sure the links work….

Within two minutes I get an email from JustCan’tPayAttention “When is the walk?” I reply with the date, place, and time and point out that all the info can be found in the link.

Another minute passes: Email from FaxMachinesAreCuttingEdgeTechnology “How do I sign up?” Reply: “ReallyExcitedWorkerBee is the point of contact for this event. You can sign up by clicking on the link she provided.”

Then the calls come in: “Hey, can I join your walk for that charity?”

Me (trying not to be nasty): “ReallyExcitedWorkerBee is the point of contact for that walk. Her contact information and the link to join the team are in the email.”

Them: “Oh, I deleted it. Can you send it to me again?” Now I am at an impasse. Do I kindly explain that you never actually delete anything on a computer and try and tell this person how to retrieve the email? Nope, I just resend it.

Now I know that because of my job, I have a low opinion of the general population, but how do these people get dressed in the morning without someone to pick out their clothes?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

If at first you don't succeed, make soap

I spent all day yesterday washing, drying, and carding wool.

See the dirty wool? Ewwwww.

First wash.

Hot hot water with a little bit of detergent. I thought about doing this in the washing machine, but I don't know what the lanolin and fuzz would do to my machine. Besides, then you wouldn't see my dead grass! (It's been a hot, dry summer.)

They say the wash water is good for the plants. I figure at this point the lawn can't get worse!

Last wash (rinsed with white vinegar).

Drying on the rack (note to self, next time use a towel under the wool). I had drops and blops of wool falling to the ground. My dog thought it was raining puppy toys.

The merino carded beautifully, but I couldn't make a rolag. I was sooo frustrated. I spent all day with this wool and I was ruining it!

So this morning I decided to do something I knew I would succeed with. Soap! I'm using a very simple recipe:

30% canola
29% olive
25% coconut
8% shea butter
8% castor
water:lye 1:2.75
5% superfat

The recipe seems a little heavy on castor (I usually stick to 4-5%), but the extra conditioning should be nice. I made two small batches so I could play with my new soap colors (that also dye wool!).

The recipe soaped like a dream. I mixed the oils/lye water at 110* and stick blended to light trace. Trace was nice and quick, but not so fast that I felt rushed. It was too fast to take a pic though.

I divided the first batch into threes and tinted two with aqua and melon red. I drizzled each color into the mold and swirled with a bamboo skewer. The fragrance is an Axe Touch type (otherwise known as manly man perfume)

I split the next batch into two parts and tinted with emerald green and brilliant blue (which turns orange then lavender in CP soap). The scent is Amber Romance and it is dreamy..... Too bad it looks like split pea soup mixed with tomatoes. The colors should settle after gel. Did you notice the first batch is almost gelled in this photo? I force gel with a heating pad so I know it gells through to the corners.

The soaps should be through the gel phase late tonight and ready to be unmolded and cut tomorrow.

Flush with the success of making soap (even if it's weird looking soap, it'll wash stinky bodies!) I got on line to figure out what I'm doing wrong with the wool. There it was, plain as day, on the first site I looked at. I was trying to make a long fiber rolag. I blame it on the bunnies. My reading has been focused on angora fibers which are very different than wool fibers. I'm going to try again tonight - wish me luck.

One last pic: the Hairy One caught dinner! See how creeped out the Bug is?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Blogstalking: "The Contents of My Purse"

Here is my purse!

This is what my purse looks like on any given day. I have not been able to admit that I am not a small purse person, so everything is balanced precariously. My current project and my book are always on top.

Once you move the book and the knitting, you see the ever-so-organized jumble of old receipts, keys, my wallet, candy, and all the other odds and ends. If you look closely, you will see a grocery list from last month.

Here's a close up of the mess that is my purse. It's all the "emergency" stuff I never actually need. Mints for dragon breath, emergency chocolate, a necklace for when I need sparkly, and of course four lipsticks that I never remember to put on.....

Friday, September 21, 2007

Blogstalking: "Who Are You?"

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know this is last week's question. I am always late; I'll probably be late for my own funeral!

So, who is this girl? And why is she so unusual? That is such a hard question.... I'll start with the statistics:

I'm a wife; I've been married to the Hairy One for six years. We met when we were both in the Army and it was that stupid-grin, weak-kneed love at first sight. He spoils me outrageously and in return, I let him go fishing whenever he wants.

I'm a mom; we have two beautiful little monsters, Bubba and the Bug. Bubba's five (almost six) and in kindergarten, and the Bug just turned four and is next door in Pre-K (that poor school). I'm trying to raise them to be independent, tenacious, and responsible for their own actions. I think it's working, but military school is always an option.

I'm an "Executive Assistant;" oh pu-lease, that's just a fancy term for a glorified secretary. I am also the primary bread-winner for our family. The Hairy One is going to school full-time to be a rocket scientist; we had to make some sacrifices, but it's worth it.

I'm in my early thirties, but I keep forgetting; I have purple hair and work in a conservative office. I love platform shoes and goth-girl outfits (but the little goth-kids always make me giggle). I am easily bored so I have eighty hobbies. I read voraciously: often a book every other day.

I am fiscally conservative but socially liberal. I believe the government should stay out of almost everything: marriage, the human body, the Middle East, my pocketbook. I believe in stronger criminal penalties, especially for violent or sexual crimes and meth manufacturing.

[pants] Whoo! I swear I didn't see that soap-box. Wow.

Mostly I'm just me. I read, I knit, I sew. I make soap. I jump in rain puddles with the boys. I like frogs and I am afraid of spiders. I am Eryn, hear me roar!

Monday, September 17, 2007

New Stuff!

I had packages waiting for me tonight! Look and see what goodies I got:

Here's a bad picture of beautiful merino wool. After I wash and card it, this wool will be the first fiber spun on my DIY kick wheel. This will also be the first wool I have processed all by myself. I hope I don't end up with a big pot of felt!

And look - cheap coconut oil for soap. I stumbled across this on eBay with only ten minutes left in the bid. Can't beat that! Coconut oil can be drying for some people, but it is really the best oil for soap. It makes a super hard bar that will suds in salt water. To counter-act the drying effect, I blend it with olive oil and shea butter, among others. A little bit of coconut oil goes a loooong way.

I also started this. Thank you for the pattern, Amanda! I love sweaters, but it is too hot in Florida, so I'm looking for cami's, tanks and cardigans. This one is fabulous and very simple. The yarn is cheapo 100% acrylic from the evil that is Wal-mart. (I live in the fiber equivalent of the Arctic tundra. Thank the gods for the internet!) I was looking for something easy to work with and cheap - just in case I screwed up. I grabbed this because I love the color. If you asked me my favorite color, I would immediately say "Blue," but I am obsessed with lavender. When I see this color, I just have to touch it. (And it sets off my eyes!)

The Eye of God

The Hairy One went back to school this year, learning to be a rocket scientist. Tonight he got on-line to show the boys some of the cool things he's learned. He pulled up this picture of the Cat's Eye Nebula (dubbed the Eye of God) and the Bug said, "Whoa, that's my future! You learned about my future, Dad!"

That was an incredibly deep comment. Whether his four year old mind meant he was going to study things like that when he grew up, or if he meant that ultimately we are all cosmic dust, I am blown away!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Finished Ear Warmers

I was going to knit scarves and hats for the boys, but then I remembered we live in Florida. Not much need for heavy winter wear..... So the scarves changed to ear warmers!

Here are Bubba and the Bug with their new ear warmers. Perfect for those frigid 60* days of winter.


Knitting and Felting

I've started my first felting project. I'm knitting a "project bag" so I can carry around all the other things I'm working on. I'm making up the pattern as I go along in a simple stockinette stitch. I love the color combination of green and purple.

The plan is to make the body of the bag in green with the sides and strap in purple. I have a test swatch to felt as soon as I catch up on laundry. That will give me an idea of how much shrinkage to expect and how much felting I want. I love the idea of changing a simple knit into felt.

On another subject, my Mom decided to buy me a new sewing machine for my birthday/Christmas/everything gift this year (I am sooo spoiled!) Yesterday I went to test drive machines at a local quilt shop. Of course I fell in love with a Bernina activa - what a machine! It practically puts the clothes together for you. So what if it's over four times the price range we're looking at..... Seriously, I'm looking at the Bernina bernette 90e. It has all the features I'd want (and many "luxuries" I'd never get if I bought a sewing machine for myself).

The most exciting thing about the test drive is I learned Bernina is releasing a computer program for garment construction that will act like a virtual dressmaker's dummy! After you input your measurements, the program will alter any pattern to fit you precisely. No more pinning and modeling twenty-times! The funny thing is, I turn to computers for everything: from filing and cross-referencing at work to photo albums. And yet, I never thought of a virtual dressmaker's dummy. I'm saving my pennies for this program!

Time to clean bunny cages....

Friday, September 14, 2007

Hello Hello

So here I am, officially a blogger. Because of course I can't do only one thing at a time, I have to dive into the worlds of spinning, knitting, and blogging all at once. (it's a sickness, I know.)

I used to knit all the time - simple things like scarves and blankets. Then we had the house fire - maybe someday I'll tell you the story - and knitting needles and yarn weren't high on the priority list for replacement. Well, it is high time I got back on that horse, and to mix metaphors, I've learned that knitting is like riding a bicycle: you never forget.

Right now I'm knitting simple hat/scarf combos for the boys (Bubba and the Bug). The Hairy One has already demanded a fuzzy scarf and a goofy hat. For a very manly man, he sure likes his fuzzies!

Once I get the knitting muscles stretched out, I will start a project list so you can follow along and yell at me for procrastination!

Our new additions Jasper and Nutmeg are settling in well. They are the progenitors of a future award-winning Satin Angora rabbit herd! I can't wait to start spinning their beautiful wool! I ordered some beautiful Merino wool I can play with until my bunnies are fluffy again.

On the soap front, I ordered some new dye. I can't wait to start playing! Ooh, ooh, ooh, the best part..... the dye is good for wool too! (Happy dance! Do it with me now!)

Pictures of projects, coming soon!