“Time for the Time Lord’s secret weapon: duct tape!”

The Czarina’s birthday was the Saturday before last, and for her birthday, I bought her (among many other things) a spot Fresnel lens. The response has been obvious: her mother rolled her eyes in disbelief when she heard what her son-in-law bought for her youngest daughter. Her father, on the other hand, is hinting about keeping this on hand for science experiments out at his ranch. The latter is the most tempting, seeing as how it’s really hard to start county-wide brushfires when you’re conducting refraction experiments at the bottom of an abandoned limestone quarry. If the cattle get in the way, well, we’ll discover how well-done the gobbets are after we scrape them off the quarry walls.

Much more seriously, we’re planning real science, first at the ranch and then back home. For the Czarina, we’ll be making a metal oven intended to maximize the heat produced by the Fresnel lens, that molten metal or glass doesn’t cool too quickly while it’s in the melting crucible. For me, I’m making Nepenthes pots from discarded LP records, and getting the grille started very quickly. I suspect that this will be her favorite birthday present yet.

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