The Point’s Picks for December 23rd

With the Christmas holiday this coming weekend, our past week has been quite hectic, yet somehow also full of noticeable “decelerations”. But even in the face of the rapidly approaching holiday, there’s still no shortage of stimulating content on the Interwebs. And so, with no further ado, here’s our usual curated line-up of interesting and relevant items of the past week:

Winter Solstice

Annual Solstices Aligned In A Yin-Yang Configuration

This week saw the annual Winter Solstice, when the sun appears to halt its progression across the horizon at sunrise and subsequently reverses its direction back toward the east. This year, the Winter Solstice occurred at about 12:30AM on Thursday, December 22nd.

But have you ever wondered where the Yin-Yang symbol of ancient eastern culture comes from? Well, it’s essentially an expression of this very same yearly progression of the sun and how it drives the division of day and night. Click on the above symbol for a more detailed explanation. Much thanks to my new Google Plus colleague Kooi Hwei Lee for posting this, and to my very good friend Randall Beggs for passing the word on.

On Birmingham Point

We published our first ever parody of ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas. Called “A(n Energy Efficient) Night Before Christmas“, our tall tale illustrates what a band of dedicated home performance elves, working under the direction of Santa Bailes, are capable of accomplishing in just one night!

Internet-Enabled Sensor Devices

There were a number of interesting announcements regarding Internet-enabled sensing devices for the home. As a result of incredible demand, new orders for the Nest Learning Thermostat will not be accepted any longer until some time in early 2012. Meanwhile, there was mention on Energy Circle this past week about Twine, a tiny device that can sense certain conditions in your home and alert you via the Internet (email, text, tweet, etc.).

Due out sometime in 2012, the exact number of conditional sensors built into Twine will depend more or less on how much Kickstart funding its inventors ultimately secure. But up to thirteen conditions are currently projected. Devices like this intrigue yours truly to no end, because, as some one who relishes in dabbling with such devices and coming up with integrated solutions based on them, …well, you know.

Finally, a related article on such Internet-enabled devices also appeared in the New York Times at the beginning of the week.

Historic Homes

Austin Home Restorations published the second and third installments of The Craftsman blog series “5 Worst Mistakes of Historic Homeowners”: Part 2 Floors and Part 3 Siding. Give them a read if you want some insight into the types of things that make preservationist types cringe(!), and how to properly avoid them.

Year-End Wrap-Up

Finally, many folks like to post year-end and holiday related wrap-up or wind-up posts, but check out this one written by my good friend Sean Lintow Sr., of SLS Construction, which I think expresses some wonderful sentiments. I’m particularly looking forward to following Sean’s progress with a local Habitat for Humanity effort that he’ll be participating in, beginning the early part of next year.

And To All Of You…

We wish all of our friends and readers out there a Happy Holiday Season, and our Best Wishes for the upcoming New Year! Enjoy your well-deserved time off with friends and family, and let’s all face the New Year with confidence that our economy and world situation will be far better in 2012!

Mom and Bill

Mother Jo and neighbor congenially debating some matter of intense interest

About John Poole

My interests include historic homes, architectural preservation and restoration, improving the energy performance of old houses, and traditional timber frames.
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4 Responses to The Point’s Picks for December 23rd

  1. I’m basically uber-late on making my blog rounds and wishing everyone a happy holidays… I hope yours were great! Sean @ SLS Construction said you were going to be working on a router table insert in your workbench design. Is that true? If so, I am very much looking forward to seeing it. We’re trying to think of what we want to do for our router. I have a RAS900 small table from SKIL. It’s an OK starter kit but I’m looking for something a little more professional.

    • John Poole says:

      Hi Fred!

      Thanks very much for stopping by! Hope you all had a great holiday. I am not planning to install a router in either of the two work benches I’m about to build, which are rather specialized benches designed for other activities. However, I do have a vision for a permanent router table I’ll eventually build, that goes something like this:

      Bench Dog makes a very heavy router table top. It’s cast iron and weighs almost 100 lbs. I plan to build a frame to support the Bench Dog top, with far side of the frame fastened to one of my basement walls for extra stability. I’m going to make the frame fairly long so as to support lengthy in-feed and out-feed areas at either end of the Bench Dog top, as well as a moveable fence on the in-feed area that can be aligned with the fence on the Bench Dog top.

      Like you, I believe these kinds of benches should be solid, heavy, and completely unmovable (in this case, anyway). I think that cast iron top will go along way in eliminating any movement or vibration.

      Anyway, I’ll be publishing all my plans and results, for every thing I do. It’s just a matter of finding the time to get the actual work done! So I’ll keep you up to date, and will even publish some items in my One Project Closer account.

      Thanks again, and have a Happy New Year!

      - John

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