Photo by Júnior Ferreira on Unsplash

How Counting on Your Fingers Has Made Math Hard

There’s usually a cultural progression in number usage. The first step has limited utility in arithmetic but is easy to learn; the integers are one, two, three and many. The next obvious step is counting on your fingers to ten, and this is where sin enters the mathematical Garden of Eden. The temptation is obvious, with ten fingers the emerging mathematician always has the most modern calculator “at hand”. This seems like a feature, not a bug.

Counting to ten feels natural but nature has played all of us who do…


Lorie Griswold

The song was “God Gave Me Music”, Sadly Dolly never heard it

Jerry Garcia first introduced me to Dolly Parton. Not in person of course, the closest I ever got to the legendary Grateful Dead guitarist was at the Family Dog venue in San Francisco, around 1970. This was the last year the Dead could play a small hall and every other time I saw them it was at a 5000 person or larger arena. No, Jerry introduced me to Dolly via a 1972 Playboy article, Grateful Dead I Have Known (Ed McClanahan) where Jerry identified her as his “favorite girl singer”.

Dolly could hardly have been farther from my musical background…


I Blame ebay

There was this antique rosewood “shipwright’s plane” on ebay, and I’m a sucker for old tools and rosewood. It was a “buy it now” sale which I managed to ignore for weeks, but then the seller dropped the price $15 and I couldn’t stop myself.


Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

The answer to the question seems obvious; how else would offspring get genetic contributions from both parents? This answer just raises another question; why is it important that offspring be constructed from the genetic contribution of two, usually unrelated parents? The accepted answer to this second question is that combining the genes of two unrelated parents promotes genetic diversity, which is recognized to be health and fitness enhancing both in the individual and the population.

The findings of the Human Genome Project make this answer a little more complex.

Decoding the entire genome of a few selected individuals would be…


Possible that you need to look up the definition, you obviously don't know it. I'll make it easy for you though, a fiat currency is one that is not backed up by specie (look it up), gold for example. Of course both gold and BTC are "worth" what people are willing to pay for them, their value is a function of human belief. Now gold HAS a couple of practical uses, which means that it HAS a value based in measurable reality. What would you say the practical use of BTC is? …


Photo by Joyce McCown on Unsplash

The door into Michael’s arts and crafts doesn’t feel like a portal to “high art”. Crafting seems to be for dilettantes while the modern “artist” often seems to sneer at the practice of craft. To me, art and craft are inseparable. It’s just not possible to make quality art without mastery of your craft, and while not all products of craft are works of art, all pieces of art are products of craft.

Fiction, poetry, even the most prosaic piece of writing can be art as well, and hard to produce without mastery of the craft of writing. The woodworker…


I'm pretty much a finish idiot, have used BLO with wax over for my tool handles which leaves a sexy smooth matte finish, is traditional but probably needs maintenance. I have used various polys on carpentry projects, trim, stair parts, but I want a home friendly set of go to finishes. Polymerizing oils like BLO, Watco and some Tung oil finishes interest me but I want them without the nasty drying agents. The Real Milk Paint Co. has some cool looking products. Which brings me back to seed Lac...mix your own shellac as needed, easily repaired if somewhat vulnerable to hot wet vessels, always the undercoat for violins/guitars. My old luthier buddies made both their shellac and their varnish.


Photo by zibik on Unsplash

Set and Setting in the Sixties

There were two schools of psychedelia in the late sixties, the Baba Ram Das/Timothy Leary East Coast spiritual school, and the West Coast Ken Kesey blow your mind school. I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area so of course I was loyal to the Prankster dharma, the let it wail, superhero mindset. At the League for Spiritual Discovery, Leary and Ram Das would carefully manage what they called set and setting, the guided psychedelic trip that is very similar to the therapeutic and personal growth trips resurgent today. Out west we tended to “drop” a tab and then drop…


Everything Old is New Again

For uncounted generations people have passed their trades and crafts down from the old and experienced to the young and eager. The industrial revolution dismantled this reality and remanufactured it, substituting interchangeable parts for hand fitted ones, and user manuals for traditional knowledge passed from teacher to student. Woodworkers once learned from journeymen, or if they were lucky, from masters. In the process they developed a carpenter’s eye capable of visualizing the increments of length rather than just transferring them from a measuring tape, hands that felt fine gradations of thickness with a well tutored finger, not a feeler gauge.


The Beast

How Far Gone is Too Far Gone?

Not long after I plunged into hand tool wood working I realized I would need some hand tools. I had minimally restored the Stanley #7 joiner plane that started this madness, jointed and glued up the 2x4s for the top of my low Roman Work Bench (thanks Rex Krueger), and now I needed to flatten and smooth that top. Off to Ebay for some shopping, and before too long I had a fairly clean #5, also known as a “jack plane” to whip into shape. …

John Griswold

Master carpenter, watercolor artist, beat up old jock and somewhat reluctant care giver, owned by Black Lab Bo who considers two tennis balls a minimum mouthful

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