Wednesday, January 8 2014
For the entire time I've had power saws, I've been unhappy with all of my options that cannot be plugged into a wall outlet. My Stihl Farm Boss chainsaw is great when it works and when the blade is sharp, but it's a heavy, loud, temperamental beast, and has suffered a number of serious problems over the years (though I can't blame it for the time its engine seized up because of my ignorance of the kind of engines that require oil added to their gasoline). Too many times I've lugged it to a site and found it completely unstartable and then had to abandon the woodcutting part of the mission. What I've wanted is a lightweight, quiet, reliable saw that I can use for quick firewood salvage operations. Quiet is important when salvaging wood near people's houses or downed timber from the public land, where the legality of such salvaging is either suspect or nonexistent. And of course lightweight is important if I want to be able to carry the saw any distance. Now that I have the backpack technique for transporting firewood arbitrary distances, I'll want to salvage firewood in various places and cache it for later pickup. In the past I've considered perhaps getting either a very small gasoline-powered chainsaw or perhaps a battery-powered reciprocating saw. While the former has been available and would work, what I've wanted was something battery-powered. But reciprocating saws are unpleasant to use and all the battery-powered chainsaws I've seen seemed to be limited to tiny four or six inch chainbars. That's not good for much more than pruning a Christmas tree (or other tasks that are best done with a human-powered bow saw).
Still, technology is constantly advancing, and I find that if I redo a Google search some years after a fruitless product search, I'll find the thing that I'd been wanting has since been developed, commercialized, and is now available for a reasonable price. Such was the case for battery-powered chainsaws. The other day I discovered a nifty little $100 battery-powered chainsaw with a ten-inch chainbar made by a company called GreenWorks (which also made our plug-in lawnmower, which is very well designed). Today the chainsaw arrived, and I eventually took it into the forest to the west of the Farm Road to cut up some thigh-thick downed Chestnut Oak there (there is plenty of bone-dry oak in that area, and it makes for good just-in-time firewood). I didn't expect great performance from the saw, but it more than met my expectations. It was able to cut through that thickness of oak in about 15 or 20 seconds, which is a lot faster than a bow saw. The chain moves slowly so it tends to want to jump around, but if you hold it down it does the cut without much in the way of complaint. Best of all, the four or five cuts I made didn't seem to affect the charge on the battery at all. I suspect I'll be using this saw a lot.
At 12:30 in the afternoon, I had another meeting about the Lightroom/web application I've been developing. Some meetings go well and some do not. After this one, I felt a little demoralized from a weird failure of the app to successfully upload images from an installation the client had done on his own computer. Suddenly it all seemed to be working like a piece of shit and the prospect of debugging it seemed overwhelming.
This afternoon, Gretchen and I drove down to Accord to a cat rescue operation called Project Cat to look at a possible new cat for us named Flynn. Unlike other small private animal rescue operations, Project Cat was tidy, organized and well-appointed. There were, however, dozens of cats spread out over multiple cat rooms, the biggest of which was filled with ramps, balconies, towers, beams, clawing stations, and even a suspended swing. After making the acquaintance of Logos, the Project Cat German Shepherd (whom Gail, the head honcho, insisted was misbehaving by being overly barky), we went in and looked at the cats. There were so many, and they were all so curious and friendly, with one exception: Flynn, the cat we'd come to see. Gail fished him out from behind a cage, at which point another cat named Shitface divebombed them, causing Flynn to inscribe a deep scratch in Gail's arm. At that point we all agreed that perhaps Flynn was a little too much of a 'fraidy cat for our houshold. But if not Flynn, who? Arlo, the fluffy white kitten with brain damage? The big orange cat who looked a little like Clarence? Or how about Uncle Walter, the fat grey cat with a mangled right ear? Uncle Walter climbed into my lap and started purring and right away I wanted to adopt him. Initially Gail didn't want to let Uncle Walter go, saying he's the "glue" of Project Cat. He's affectionate with (and grooms) everyone, making the shelter an easier place to run. I didn't want to take Walter if he was serving a purpose, but Gretchen thought we should take him if he was available. Eventually Gail relented and we filled out the paperwork, though she kind of wanted to have a going away party for him too. I don't know how we did it, but somehow we killed nearly two hours at Project Cat.
Back at the house, we put Walter in the upstairs bathroom with food, water, an electric space heater, and various things to lie on. Eventually, though, he expanded his range into the bedroom, at which point he got the chance to meet Sylvia the cat and Ramona the dog. The Sylvia introduction didn't go well (she hissed at Walter, so we removed her), but he took an immediate shine to Ramona, rubbing against her numerous times. She was a little freaked out by all this attention from a strange new cat, occasionally darting away in terror whenever he turned to face her. But eventually she grew comfortable with him. A similar thing happened later when we brought Eleanor up to the bedroom to meet Walter. The thing to remember about Eleanor is that her default view of all cats is that they are prey animals to be chased, but her brain seems to be easily reprogrammed when she is face to face with a new cat in the confines of an interior space. She has a little initial fascination that is quickly replaced with boredom, a boredom that continues until the end of time (although she still occasionally tries to hump Clarence).
This evening Gretchen had a court date in Woodstock to deal with an expired inspection sticker. Had she checked the mail before she left, she would have seen that her appearance had been rescheduled. But instead she drove out to Woodstock for nothing. Meanwhile, I drank beer and watched teevee. I'm trying to watch a new "reality" show called Backyard Oil about wildcatting in Kentucky, but I don't think I'm going to like it. It's trying too hard to be hilarious, and any show that caters to red state ignoramuses is not going to have the kind of humor I find funny. (By contrast, Moonshiners is trying too hard to be serious, which is why I can watch it.)
Only later did I realize the inadvertent Breaking Bad reference in the fact that we'd gone to an animal shelter to pick up a cat named Flynn only to return with one named Walter instead.
Uncle Walter (the grey cat with the mangled ear; photo from Project Cat).
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