Inspired by a Steve Ramsey video about making a wooden duck pull-toy, I knocked out a wooden duck push-toy. I had a really tough scrap of 2×8 laying around, and the jigsaw had trouble cutting a fine shape out. A lot of sanding ensued, and the wood kept absorbing the yellow latex craft paint I had on hand. I think that would have been fine but I got a can of yellow spray paint and now this duck can be seen from space.
The duck looked easy enough. Sketch out a shape, trace it onto wood, jigsaw …
The wood was thicker than my jigsaw and skills could handle. Much sanding ensued.
The wooden duck’s thirst for acrylic hobby paint could never be slaked, though I think this would have been good enough.
How long should the push dowel be?
The spray paint provides a nice base for clamping the wheels by the axle as they dry.
A bench dog holds the duck by the push dowel as a space heater helps the sealant out in Sunnyvale’s winter weather.
Sinking a hole in the handle for the push dowel. Fortunately, the client is not too picky about precision.
When all was said and done, it was the boys who really brought this project home!
The wheels are just large dowels, and the axle is straight enough to allow a slight wobble. As this was being built for my younger son I gave him the option of push toy or pull toy. He opted for a push toy, and I made the push stick about the right size for him.
Here’s a bit from an interview I enjoyed with Eileen Crist from the December 2020 issue of The Sun magazine, which you can read online. I appreciate that folks have done the math to figure out what a good population would be and how we could very reasonably get there. This would be an effort across generations, and who knows what will really happen anyway? We can all chip into a vision that we ourselves will never see.
Tonino: You said earlier that there are approximately 7.8 billion humans on the planet. What would be an ideal number of humans?
Crist: Many analysts are thinking of a provisional goal of around 2 billion. This figure is for a human population enjoying roughly a European standard of living, sustained by organic food production, and eating far less fish, meat, and animal products than the average Western consumer.
Of course, there is no “optimal” population number in an absolute sense, because a lot depends on the level of consumption people gravitate toward, their dietary choices, and unknown variables having to do with technological developments. But 2 billion is more optimal than where we are now and where we are headed. Two billion is what the global population was about a hundred years ago. It is a big-enough number to enable a connected global civilization to continue, with achievements in the sciences, humanities, technology, and so on. In other words, 2 billion can sustain a lively “conversation of humanity.” But it’s a low-enough number to enable the substantial protection of nature that we are discussing.
According to Cornell agronomist [the late] David Pimentel and his colleagues, 2 billion people is the estimated number that can be sustained on organic, diversified, mostly regional agriculture, with farm animals living on the land and people eating a mostly plant-based diet. This way of eating would not only be wholesome for people but good for the planet and for all other animals as well.
You might say: “Fine, 2 billion sounds good, but how do we get there?” We get there by fast-tracking two important human rights: One, full gender equity and schooling for all girls, through at least secondary education. And, two, affordable and accessible family-planning services for all. If we could bring the global fertility rate — voluntarily: I do not support coercion of any kind — to an average of one child per woman, the human population would start to approach 2 billion within four generations.
Tonino: The ecophilosopher Arne Næss said that he was pessimistic about the twenty-first century but optimistic about the twenty-second. How do you think about the future?
Crist: What Næss meant, I think, is that in the twenty-first century there will be a reckoning with how we’ve lived, what we’ve done to the planet and ourselves, and that reckoning will set in motion an awakening: a different way to go about things, a different relationship between Earth and humanity. It’s quite possible that things will play out that way — get bad, then better. In some respects it’s an optimistic prophecy. But obviously there’s no guarantee that the future will follow this trajectory. We don’t even know where we are with respect to climate change. If runaway heating happens — or a nuclear war or some other unimaginable disruption — this trajectory that Næss outlines will be impossible.
I caught the opening of the impeachment trial today. The video from the House Impeachment managers was harrowing and damning. As a friend said last night, the US Capitol is sacred ground. Then Trump’s lawyers got up and rambled aimlessly. Bargain bin guys who came in unprepared to defend a guy who incited a mob to try and kill Congress. I wanted to feel that the case was so one-sided and the defense such a sham that the Senate would see through it and convict him and set a precedent that the United States will not tolerate anyone trying to take the government by force but I know better.
President Trump doesn’t need any defense better than a farce because we all know exactly what will happen. A majority of the Senate, all the Democrats, and some Republicans will vote in favor of Democracy. But not enough. Republicans are loyal to their party. Their Fascist will run again. He’s got a lot more charisma than Ted Cruz.
When the Insurrection happened on January 6, I was impressed that Congress picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back into session. I watched until they certified the vote. Every time the objections to the count were withdrawn for lack of Senate support, I cheered, and for the few hours that objections were required to be heard, I rode it out. Congress certified the vote towards 3 am in Washington, and I counted it fortunate that I only had to stay up towards midnight in California. I explained that as a SysAdmin, when the system crashes and people get upset, I feel like I need to keep an eye on the systems as they get back to normal.
I feel optimistic that Joe Biden could well turn out to be a great President. He’s got a lot of experience, a lot of rapport, and the challenges are substantial. I also feel dread that our flirtation with autocracy is only going to get worse.