April 19 , 2002
90° Heat, then Snow?
April can be a month of extremes and the last two weeks have been quite a roller coaster ride. Last week when I arrived, there were still some patches of snow on the ground and one week later I was wearing shorts with temperatures in the 80's most of the week. But as I leave for a trip back home for the weekend, the forecast is calling for snow! Ahh...springtime in Minnesota.
This week's weather was mortar friendly weather for sure with temperatures reaching 90 degrees on Monday. I seriously considered doing some mudding, but I reminded myself that this is only mid April. If the weather turned cold (below freezing cold ) I might end up having to redo a wall. So instead, I spent the week cutting and beveling wood.
If you recall, I am using a miter saw to cut the 16" blocks of wood into two 8" pieces. The miter saw gives the wood a nice smooth finish. After each piece is cut, I then use a Dremmel tool with a small sanding drum to remove any splinters and give the log a nice beveled look. This does take a bit more time, but I like the clean look to the wall once it is completed.
So to sum up the week in three words: "I CUT WOOD."
In addition to cutting wood, the solar heating system has been repaired. For anyone considering such a system, be aware that you're bound to hit a few "bumps" in the road now and then. I've done my best to keep things simple, but it is an active solar heating system. Anything with the word "active" in it typically means there are mechanical devices involved and the odds of something going wrong increase as the complexity increases. I sent along the failed piece of tubing to the manufacturer, so we'll see what they think caused the failure.
With warm and sunny weather conditions, heat was coming out of the floor by the middle of the week. I would imagine it won't be long before I start shunting the heat out to the 200' feet of tubing located underground in back of the house.
Nature's Hat Trick
Wednesday night / Thursday morning was quite a treat from both a weather and astronomical perspective. Wednesday evening I was treated to quite a astronomical display. Right after sunset the planets and the moon put on a show. I was able to see Venus, Mars, Saturn, the moon and Jupiter all in a line. If I didn't have a bluff to our west, I probably could have seen Mercury too, but Mercury was already below the horizon. This alignment won't take place again until the year 2040.
|Click on the above image for a larger view along with identification of the planets.|
At around 10 p.m. I went outside to take a peak and I there was a faint glow to the north. After my eyes adjusted a bit, there was no doubt about it. The Northern Lights were at it again. The strange thing about this display was the speed in which the luminescence changed. There were patches in the sky that were flashing on and off. If you looked close enough, you could tell that the luminescence was moving from north to south across the sky, but at the speed of a streaking meteor. I had never seen such speed!
And if that wasn't enough, I was rudely awakened by severe storms at 4:30 in the morning. There was hail as large as quarters. It sure made a lot of racket! The lightning display was rather vivid too.
Three amazing events all in one night.