Tierra del Fuego

And another time I will take the ‘not my continent’ exception against travel logging, not that I suppose there is anything so awful about a few pictures and thoughts, regardless of where they come from, but nonetheless.

Because I was in Brasil on business for a long time, and because my company would fly me home periodically, it was also true that they would fly me anywhere else closer than home if I so desired.  Tierra Del Fuego is closer to Sao Paulo than Boston is, so I took the freebie.

I landed at Ushuaia, right on the Beagle Channel, near sunset.  I want to say Ushuaia in such a manner that it rhymes with “Wish you were here”, a la Pink Floyd, but I don’t think that really it gets said that way.  Gritty little town at the end of the world.  Perfect.

There’s a nice wrecked tug in the small harbor.  Once was a US Navy vessel.  I collected shells and seeds that morning – lupines and limpets.  A few other bits that seemed interesting, even some sheep’s teeth, though I have to admit it took me a while to figure what they were, and there were a surprising number of them on the shore of the channel, makes one wonder if Cthulhu is snacking down there or something.

Normally I will never let any tour guide take me anywhere – it’s just not my thing – but here they had an eight hour cruise that got one to an island with a penguin rookery, where you could literally walk with the penguins.  On the way there were whales, elephant seals,

just some awful pretty places.  And that’s where these little devils choose to live

they were very confident, neither brash nor evasive.  One I spoke with a little but stopped as soon as I realized that he would talk back and that I should not socialize him in any way.



There were albatrosses too

a few days later after I went to the National Park that they call at the end of the world.  I guess it is as far as you can drive.


it was calm and beautiful.

Box 18 Live Oak Tombstone Stress and Warping

which is a lot to say, kind of.

This box is the eighteenth.  It is made of Live Oak, a wood that I have never worked with.  Like Box 6, it is a tombstone planter, which is to say that two ends of it are shaped like tombstones, and not that one plants tombstones there.  Unlike Box 6, which was of a scraggly Oklahoma white oak and held together with metal screws, this one has no metal, is held together by dowels and glue.

You see the trouble, of course.  The rectangular walls were flatly affixed to the tombstone walls.  Dirt was added.  Was the dirt causative of the warping, or the dirt in combination with the subsequent watering?  A simple theory is that the wetness on the inside caused that side to expand and thus the warping.  I was surprised at the strength of the process, though, that it broke the glue bonds on the dowels.  If I should ever perpetrate this design again I’d be inclined to put more dowels in, and at angles, to see how much power the warping has relative to a fastening method designed to prevent it.

The box is quite heavy, as live oak is just heavy, as compared to conventional oaks.  The janka hardness is 2680, nearly twice that of white oak (1360).  Supposedly America owes its successful birth partly to live oak, of which the USS Constitution was made and off which canon balls bounce.  That’s a game changer.  Assuming this planter does not tear itself apart with these powerful stresses, and that some unforeseen bug nemesis does not appear, it could be that these design mistakes will stand illustratively for a considerable time.

It was a nice wood to work with.  A lot of curves in the grain but a very nice smell, a reassuring strength and density, all bringing a sense that one must be doing something serious.