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Spoon Hoolie Lineup 2017


WOD: Woodsman’s walk with barrow




Wheel barrow loaded with axe, sledge hammer, splitting wedges, club maul and hatchet downhill through woods, for time.

Log Splitting – 1 round, for time

Flip 80+kg log end over end twice

Use axe to begin split, hammer with sledge hammer to extend it.

Insert wedges and hammer in as needed.

Log Carry – 2 rounds, to exhaustion

Hoist 1 half of the log (approximately 40kg) onto shoulder and carry uphill until exhausted


Coppicing – 1x 30 minute round

Using a bow saw, fell and cut up as many hazel trees as possible in the time. Select suitable lengths and place on wheelbarrow

Log Retrieval – for time

Push/drag barrow up the hill through woods, loaded with lengths of hazel and all tools. See illustration.

Note: difficulty can be dramatically increased by only partially inflating wheelbarrow tyre!

Replace wheelbarrow with a better one and retrieve the two split logs, in one trip if possible.

Making a simple club maul


I have been getting interested in green woodworking recently, beginning with spoon carving. Between trying to find the time to whittle some spoons, I have read through a few different related books, and I particularly enjoyed one by Mike Abbott – Going with the Grain: Making Chairs in the 21st Century, which had a really useful structure, starting off with making the tools you need to carry out the projects.

Splitting small wood accurately can be tricky and often needs something substantial with which to smack the axe. I’ve had trouble with this so far because the old mallet I have isn’t heavy enough. One of the first projects in the above book is a club maul. I was helping a friend recently with clearing some trees he’d cleared and got him to cut me off a chunk of an ash tree:




The basic idea is to take a length of wood around 18-24″ long and 4-6″ in diameter (probably, I don’t actually remember the details from the book, it was from the library and is now in my Amazon wishlist). You cut part of the way through the log, all the way around, and then split away from one end to leave a handle, finally shaping it.

I discovered that I had complicated things by selecting a rather oval log. If that was not the case, the first step is to mark a circle in the center of one end. I chose something to draw around that was around and inch and 3/4, but and inch and a half would probably be better.

If this were on a round log, you would then measure the distance from the outside of the marked circle to the edge of the log. I wasn’t sure how to get around this, but decided to start by marking out an oval-ish shape to begin with and marked points roughly the same distance from the bark all the way around and then joined up the dots.


wpid-wp-1447355893588.jpgNow the next step was to mark a line on my saw of the same distance. Note that here I marked it on the right-hand face of the saw and then realised that, since I am right-handed, when I used the saw I couldn’t see the line so re-marked it on the other side.

Then saw all the way around , part-way down the log, to the depth of the line. I didn’t measure how far along, just eyeballed it but would guess it was about 8″.


Now we begin to split away the parts we don’t want. Naturally, not having a maul to hit the axe with creates a bit of a catch-22 situation. Since this is ash, it mostly split quite easily, but I did encounter a few awkward sections.



Once I’d reduced it to the oval shape, I sawed a little more at the pointier ends by eye, as the handle was too big for me to grip.


I then split and hewed away the rest until it didn’t split away easily any more, leaving “whiskery” bits. These I trimmed off with a light sawing action.


I then began shaping the handle more carefully with the knife, beginning at the head end to make sure I’d shaped it back to remove all the saw-cuts from the handle.


Once this was done, I carefully trimmed off the smaller whiskers with a smaller-toothed saw.



Note in this picture that I messed up the positioning a little and exposed the pith.



I marked up the remaining roughed out handle to try to straighten it up a bit and then continued to shape it with the knife.



The end result, which I tested on a piece of oak, made the splitting pleasingly easy.





I was listening to a freakonomics episode about teaching in american schools , and a quote was mentioned in passing (I think by the founder of KIPP schools)

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them. – James Arthur Baldwin

I was running errands at the time, and it almost stopped me in my tracks.

It kicked off a whole train of thought, rethinking how much of a model I am to my son, in general terms. However, it also made me think about a specific area.

My son hates reading. He has Asperger’s and is very bright; his numeracy, comprehension and language skills are excellent. He struggles with reading and writing, and exhibits elements of dyslexia.

He knows in theory that my wife and I both like reading, but actually he rarely sees us do it. We never seem to manage to find the time to read for pleasure or self-education, but both of us were voracious readers before parenthood. Now, the only reading either of us do is in snatches on a phone or tablet, and it is rarely anything really worth reading. We have continued to acquire books at such a rate that we have many bookcases loaded with books, but they are just not getting read.

Referring back to James Arthur Baldwin, my son may well continue to resist what we say, but if he does not see us reading he can not emulate that later. It worries me a lot because my measure of an interesting and interested person is how much they read for interest.

This needs to change, and we are going to set aside at least a couple of times a week where the TV is off, and we both sit down with a physical book (not a device, even if it is emulating a kindle) and read for an hour.

It also kicked off a train of thought of what we need to do to refocus how we home educate, but that’s another post.

Wheat as intestinal scourer


A silly train of thought in the car (triggered by seeing a billboard for a “Weetabix on the go” drink), followed by a disastrous experience with some burgers (not rusk-free) this evening, led to this. Food should not make you crap blood.


Enabling lxdm in Fedora 19


Quick tip.

Long story short, I decided to swap out gdm for a lighter display manager on an underpowered machine.

I found the lxdm is packaged, but when I ran the system-switch-displaymanager helper script it told me that:

“The graphical display manager lxdm is not supported yet.”

I had a poke around in the system-switch-displaymanager code and found that it is very simple, and does this:

rm -f /etc/systemd/system/display-manager.service

systemctl enable $DM.service

Where $DM is what you pass it (one of GDM, KDM, XDM, WDM or LIGHTDM, currently).

So I checked if lxdm had a systemd service script (it does) and did that myself:

rm -f /etc/systemd/system/display-manager.service

systemctl enable lxdm.service

and it worked.

Webex on 64-bit Fedora 19


It’s hard to believe that 32/64-bit compatibility is still an issue in this day an age. I’d hoped it would be plain sailing by now.

But no.

I use Webex at work, and at some point it and/or java stopped working. I kind of lost track of what I’d done before, but decided I wanted the “pure” solution or none at all (64-bit OS, therefore 64-bit firefox and 64-bit java). I failed to get it working, so resorted to running it in a Windows 7 VM in VirtualBox (works perfectly, of course).

I decided to spend a little more time on it, and with the latest java and firefox (jre-1.7.0_40 and firefox-24.0-1), the applet side of things “Just Worked”, i.e.: reports “Congratulations! You have the recommended Java installed (Version 7 Update 40).”

To get this far, install the latest jre RPM (

# rpm -Uvh jre-7u40-linux-x64.rpm
# /usr/sbin/alternatives --install /usr/bin/java java /usr/java/default/bin/java 20000
# /usr/sbin/alternatives --config java

There is 2 program that provides 'java'.

  Selection    Command
*+ 1 /usr/lib/jvm/java-1.7.0-openjdk-
   2           /usr/java/default/bin/java

Enter to keep the current selection[+], or type selection number: 2 

Symlink the java plugin to somewhere appropriate (I chose my home directory):

$ ln -s /usr/java/default/lib/amd64/ ~/.mozilla/plugins/

And restart firefox.

However, starting a Webex would work to a point, but I couldn’t see anything I entered into the chat box, or any response (although both show up on a working client at the other “end”).

I’d got the java console running and googled around on some of the errors I was seeing.

This got me this page:

This implied that installing the 64-bit version of the pangox-compat RPM would help. I already had that. In desperation, I tried installing the i686 version, too. No improvement in symptoms.

After poking around some more, using this error:

Loading native DBR...
java.lang.UnsatisfiedLinkError: /home/jwrigley/.webex/1224/ /home/jwrigley/.webex/1224/ wrong ELF class: ELFCLASS32 (Possible cause: architecture word width mismatch

I found that there are a bunch of files pulled down by the applet (I presume?) into ~/.webex/1224/, which are 32-bit (I don’t know if the number, here 1224, differs on other systems).

$ file .webex/1224/*.so
.webex/1224/ ELF 32-bit LSB shared object, Intel 80386, version 1 (SYSV), dynamically linked, stripped
.webex/1224/ ELF 32-bit LSB shared object, Intel 80386, version 1 (SYSV), dynamically linked, stripped
.webex/1224/ ELF 32-bit LSB shared object, Intel 80386, version 1 (SYSV), dynamically linked, stripped

More googling brought little hope. The consensus appeared to be that the only solution is to run 32-bit firefox and java. *spit*

Tenacity, or pigheadedness, forced me to have one more try.

As described in the link above, I straced the java process once I’d started a conference. This opened a lot of threads.

I noticed that the strace process would report, when I clicked “Share My Desktop”, something like this:

Process 1004 attached
[ Process PID=1004 runs in 32 bit mode. ]

That saved me some time in grepping, as I opened the strace log for that process and right at the bottom:

15:16:16 writev(2, [{"/home/jwrigley/.webex/1224/atasj"..., 34}, {": ", 2}, {"error while loading shared libra"..., 36}, {": ", 2}, {"", 11}, {": ", 2}, {"cannot open shared object file", 30}, {": ", 2}, {"No such file or directory", 25}, {"\n", 1}], 10) = 145

I had in /usr/lib64, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to try installing the 32-bit version:

# yum install libXmu.i686

Tried again, and still not working, but the new thread had a different error, this time libXt.

I followed this cycle a couple of times, installing 32-bit versions of libXt, libXmu and gtk2 (for, and lo! I got a popup telling me I was sharing my desktop. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see my desktop on the other client, but when I shared that desktop, I could see it on my local machine.

The packages I installed, as a one-liner:

# yum install pangox-compat.i686 libXt.i686 libXmu.i686 gtk2.i686

(the last one pulls down quite a few dependencies.

The problem with the chat appears to have come along with the newer java, as there are claims that it’s fixed by rolling back. The associated error/traceback is:

chat component version = 2011.01.29.1101
Resource: atlchat
Resource: atlchat_en
Resource: atlchat_en_US
Exception in thread "AWT-EventQueue-3" java.lang.IllegalStateException: This function should be called while holding treeLock
at java.awt.Component.checkTreeLock(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.Container.validateTree(Unknown Source)
at ChatControlPane.access$100(
at ChatControlPane$1$
at java.awt.event.InvocationEvent.dispatch(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.EventQueue.dispatchEventImpl(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.EventQueue.access$200(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.EventQueue$ Source)
at java.awt.EventQueue$ Source)
at Method)
at$1.doIntersectionPrivilege(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.EventQueue.dispatchEvent(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.EventDispatchThread.pumpOneEventForFilters(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.EventDispatchThread.pumpEventsForFilter(Unknown Source)
at java.awt.EventDispatchThread.pumpEventsForHierarchy(Unknown Source)

So, only a partial fix, but at least I can view somebody else’s shared desktop from the comfort of my own browser, which is about 90% of my use-case.

Run/Walk along the River Dove


Last weekend, we were in Burton-on-Trent for a wedding. We were only attending the evening reception, so took the boys to Jangala soft play centre (recommended). Hannah suggested I take off for a little while and go for a walk, so I hopped in the car and drove around looking for somewhere to walk.

I parked up next to the River Dove and felt more like running than walking, despite the heat and just headed down-river until I ran out of time and had to head back. It was a pretty river, slowly meandering through fields, although the path, if there was an official one, was ill-defined and I was quite glad I chose to wear shoes and didn’t go barefoot.

Louth Canal Walk


This post has been sitting largely written, as a draft, since about last October!

While we were on holiday in Cleethorpes, I took off for my customary “alone time” barefoot walk. I’d had a look at the available options, and settled on a walk from Louth, along the Louth Canal to Tetney Lock, and then along the coast a little way to the Haven Holiday park.

Hannah and Oscar dropped me off in the centre of Louth, where I found a WHSmith and duly bought an OS map of the area. I didn’t expect navigation to be an issue, I just like having a map.

The trickiest part was figuring out how to get to the head of the canal. I got little help from the people I asked, most of whom hardly seemed to know there was a canal. I half-located myself on the map and headed for a thin blue line that looked like it hooked up with the canal, and after a bit of meandering through the streets of Louth, found myself in the car park of the Co-Operative supermarket with a small stream. So I followed it downstream.

It was hard to follow at times, but after a while I found myself at the beginning of the canal, where the stream is funnelled through a pipe, to trickle into the canal.


The stream that drains into the canal. The River Lud, according to Wikipedia


Louth River Head


Having grown up near the Grand Western Canal and lived near the waterways in Birmingham and Reading, all navigable to some extent, it was a little underwhelming. The Lough end of the canal is very shallow and, as I would discover, most of the locks are in a poor state. Parts of the canal would be a struggle to navigate in a kayak.

However, it made for a pretty place to walk, and I finally set off on the walk proper.

The metalled path was hard going to begin with, and the area felt quite urban, so I didn’t dawdle and began a cycle of alternately jogging and walking.


Rough stuff

IMG_20120911_124434 IMG_20120911_124757


Tilting Weir

Tilting Weir

Tilting Weir

Keddington Lock

Keddington Lock

The locks were pretty, but in poor condition for the most part. The Louth Navigation Trust has plans for restoration.

Willows Lock

Willows Lock

Willows Lock

Willows Lock

Willows Lock

Willows Lock

Willows Lock

Willows Lock

There was a field with a bull and cows, which made me somewhat cautious. Being a country bumpkin, I’m not worried by cows, but have a healthy respect for bulls! Also, cows with calves are to be respected. I kept my distance and hastened on my way.



Having a hard time identifying some of the locks.

IMG_20120911_132312 IMG_20120911_132407 IMG_20120911_132416 IMG_20120911_132428

This fellow would have dearly loved to eat me, I think. I’ve rarely encountered such furious barking and snarling. I tried not to taunt him too much.




Being a canal, the terrain was flat and easy and I made decent progress. Jogging along for reasonable periods, walking when I wanted to enjoy the views, popping off the path to explore occasionally. I came across a few odd things…

A dead weasel, just lying on the tow path. No nearby road, no obvious cause of death.  A crow or similar had visited, however. Blech.

A dead weasel, just lying on the tow path. No nearby road, no obvious cause of death. A crow or similar had visited, however. Blech.

IMG_20120911_143525 IMG_20120911_143633

As I got closer to the coast, the canal became deeper and fuller, more plausibly canal-like, and the tang of salt on the air. There was debris on the tow-path, high up from the water where I assume it had been dredged, and large shell fish. I think they were freshwater mussels.



By the time I reached Tetney Lock I was tiring, and it was quite hot, so I stopped at the pub for a drink and some icecream. Some locals were quite perplexed that I had walked from Louth, with no shoes, but were friendly.

I had a dinner date with the family, back on the caravan site, so I pressed on towards the sea, following a footpath that should have taken me across the marshes so that I could join the beach.

Somehow, I went a bit wrong at the end of the canal.

Canal one side

Canal one side

"Estuary" on the other

“Estuary” on the other

I misinterpreted a path on the OS map and somehow ended up alongside a muddy creek. Being male, I wouldn’t go back until I’d gone far, far further down the wrong way than is rational. I kept thinking I’d be able to cut across back to the path, only to find myself on a narrow spit of land surrounded by mud and water. You can see from the embedded map further down the page just how far I went out of my way, and was just on the verge of panic as I wasn’t sure of the tides or whether they were a factor. Sanity ruled in the end, and I doubled back all the way to where I should have turned in the first place.

This doesn't look like much of a path.

This doesn’t look like much of a path.

This definitely doesn't look like a path. What to do? Press on!

This definitely doesn’t look like a path. What to do? Press on!

That looks familiar, I was here only a little while ago!

That looks familiar, I was here only a little while ago!

Finally, the sea!

Finally, the sea!

In the end, I got back in time to have dinner together. My feet had held up well, and the last section of the walk, along the edge of the sea, wading in the cold water to ease my muscles in feet and calves was blissful.

A good walk, but I’d recommend taking care to keep to the path near the coast.

(Not so) Mysterious Cutting Out


I got on Marlene yesterday to run some errands. She started up nicely, but every time I tried to engage 1st gear, she cut out instantly.

Given that it was instant I had an idea of what it might be. There is a safety cut-out on the side-stand, that prevents you from going into gear with the stand down.

I got off and took a look, and lo and behold, the switch (a plunger type) was stuck in. I was in a hurry, so I simply pulled it back out with my nail and went on my way. Next time, it wasn’t an issue, so I’ve just squirted it with some lube and worked it in and out a bit and hopefully that’s that.