ajoBlog Project Yurt

Yurt Research – Sharing my Evernotes

Here’s everything so far that I have about yurts and gers. I’m scanning additional notes from myself, photos etc. as I go along, but for now, here’s the Evernote folder:

Have fun, and happy building!


Unemployment – Week 5

The good news is that I’ve been interviewing this week at Summit County ESC for a technology position, and I’ve been invited back for a second interview!


Here are the jobs I applied to this week:

  • High School Social Studies, Wooster High School
  • Coordinator, Teaching & Learning, Residence Hall Program, Kent State University
  • Career Specialist, Kent State University
  • Academic Advisor, Kent State University
ajoBlog Project Yurt

Project Yurt – Khana Notes

I’ve started in earnest on the big yurt (Mongolian ger), and it’s sizing up to be a 16 foot diameter yurt. I went to Terry’s lumber in Peninsula today to get the pieces for the khana, as I decided against ripping two-by material, and instead using 1x2s that I’ll router the edges off of.

Some background:

16 ft diameter yurt = circumference of 50 some feet. If the khana slats are spaced at 12 inches (using 1x2s should be no problem), that will yield 100 slats (1x2s). The door will measure 3 ft (already built, more notes, schematics and pics later), so in essence the yurt will actually be 16ft+ when done.

Here are the materials list for the khana, 16ft diameter:

  • 1x2x8ft – 100

The reason it’s 100, is that that will get divided in half (to produce the khana), spaced at 12 inches, making 50 ft of khana. I’ll be making mine in two sections, each measuring 25 ft, for ease of transportation. More on this later…

Actually… I made some slight miscalculations, and it turns out I had neglected to calculate the hypotenuse for a square with 12″ sides. According to the Pythagorean theorem, that hypotenuse is square root of 288, which is ~17″. So, with a spacing up top of the khana, where each section comes together, of 17″, instead of 12″, I now need less khana routered (a good thing), and will have to adjust some things… if I had continued with 50 sections (crosses), and 100 khana slats, the yurt would have ended out being 22′ in diameter. A sizable, yet too large of a dwelling for us!

So, now that we have appreciated maths ability to help in construction, onwards we go!

ajoBlog Project Yurt

Yurt FAQ

What is a Yurt?

Yurt is the name commonly used to refer to a Mongolian Felt Tent or Ger. Mongolians do not usually appreciate the term because it is most often used by Western invaders. So, in spite of this page’s title, we will attempt to use Ger where ever possible.
A Ger is really more than a tent. The Mongols live in them year round and tend to prefer them to other forms of housing. The design has been developed for generations to suit the needs of its inhabitants. It can be warm in arctic cold, yet cool in summer. The structure can collapse small enough to fit on one draft animal and can be set up again in a half an hour.

What are the different elements of a ger?

Lattice Walls (qana)These walls are formed by several individual sections of cris crossed lattice work, much like baby gate. These wall sections were constructed of wooden poles joined together with leather lacing at the crossings. The number of crossings along the top would usually be from ten to fifteen. The number of crossings along the length of a pole would usually be thirteen, a number of spiritual significance. The wall sections are usually butted, meaning they end square with the use of shorter poles.

Each wall section can obviously be collapsed to take up very little room.


The door, with the two ends of the qana coming to meet on either side of its wooden framing, can be strikingly modern in appearance. It is usually constructed completely of wood but sometimes incorporates felt as well. The door’s threshold is believed to contain the spirit of the house and it is forbidden, and a great offense to the ger’s owner, to step on it.

Roof Ring (toghona)

The roof ring is the most complex element in ger construction. It is usually a hoop of wood containing slots or holes that the roof poles can lock into. The interior of the ring can contain many different designs but must be relatively open to allow smoke and air flow. During bad weather is it covered with a piece of felt or hide (called an eruke).

Roof Poles (uni)

Roof poles are simply the wooden beams that form the roof skeleton.  They are usually shaved down on one side to allow them hook into the roof ring. The other end of a roof pole is laid against the top of the qana or its lashings.

Felt (isegei)

Like all ger materials, this is manufactured local to Mongolia. In the states, we’d probably call this canvas. During really cold times of year, many layers might be used, including animal hides. This covering is secured using ropes. The ropes and felt are made from hair, human and other.

From multiple sources… hard to track down original, but it’s not mine!

ajoBlog Project Yurt

Khana sections drill positions

Working on the most beneficial, and efficient, and sturdiest, way to drill the khana sections. I’m using 1x2x8ft routered to a nice shape, so they’re pretty sturdy… here are my options (and I’m probably sticking with either 12″ solution, as that makes the math easier when figuring the circumference, number of roof poles, etc.

ajoBlog Project Yurt

What’s a yurt?

Here’s a picture of a yurt. I’m building one sort of like it, but a bit taller, and using more modern materials.

ajoBlog Edtech

#Edtech Back to Basics – Using Twenty Eleven

I’ve been using a few themes over the past year, learning how WordPress works, customizing some stuff, and working out the kinks. But when Twenty Eleven came out with the upgrade to WordPress 3.2, I decided to go back to basics, and start using that theme.

One of the main features is a big splash screen image in the header that takes up lots of room on the pages, and I wanted to get rid of that, in addition to using my own image. I scaled the header image (editing the header_image_width filter in functions.php) to 1000×100, and chose my own image in the Header settings in the Dashboard. I think it looks okay.


Hippie Co-Sleepers

Yep, we’re those people.

I was laying in bed last night, my mind racing at a 100 MPH due to some other reasons, and I began thinking about our sleeping arrangements. We co-sleep with our kids for a number of reasons, like billions of other people (yes, billions with a ‘b’). And it works great.

When we had our first child, Emelie, our choice and plan was to have her sleep in the crib we had set up beside our bed. On the first night home from the hospital, that plan changed, and she slept with us as an infant. What a difference that made! All of us got more sleep (due to the proximity, breastfeeding availability, etc.), and Emelie has turned out to be a normal 3-year old by now. Who knew? Well adjusted, no anxieties, and no separation issues, etc.

When Oskar was born, we had already started moving Emelie out of our bed, and into her own bed, in her own room. Out of necessity, and some planning on our part, we decided to repeat the co-sleeping with Oskar, and so now we share beds with both of them, separately. Jae takes care of Oskar, and I take care of Emelie. It works perfectly, and no-one has to get up in the middle of the night to attend to waking children, etc. We all sleep better, and the kids get better sleep, too. After all, when adults are in a stable relationship, one of the things the do is sleep in the same bed. Why? Because it feels right, results in better sleep, and makes everyone happy. Maybe there’s something to this co-sleeping after all. For more, please visit Dr. Sears pages on co-sleeping.

As a side note, here’s a silly diagram of how we sleep in our bed…


Egg Casserole – Why Not?

The other day, I was at a workshop, and for breakfast they’d brought some dish that included eggs, sausage, and some other stuff. Very tasty, sort of like a quiche, but no crust. Unable to identify the dish, I asked around, and was told it was egg casserole. Outstanding! (thanks, Steve!)

Being me, I immediately want to recreate, and improve on said dish, and so I looked up a basic recipe online. Over the past few weeks, I have tweaked that recipe a bit, and here’s what I made the other day, with great success:


  • 9×13 pan, glass or otherwise
  • non-stick spray
  • frying pan
  • spatulas
  • oven at 400F
  • mixing bowl
  • aluminum foil

Ingredients (serves 6-8, depending on hunger level)

  • 12 eggs
  • 1 1/2 C. half & half
  • 7-8 slices of white bread, torn or cubed
  • salt, pepper, yellow curry powder
  • 1 box mushrooms
  • 1 head fresh broccoli
  • 1 medium onion
  • some cherry tomatoes
  • 1 lb bacon
  • 2 C. shredded cheese, maybe cheddar, or mozzarella

The Work

  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Mix eggs, half & half, and spices in a blender or by hand.
  3. Tear or cube the bread in to pieces about 1 inch.
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine egg mixture and bread, let soak during rest of prep.
  5. Cut up bacon (I use scissors), saute to a nice semi-crispy texture in pan. Discard fat, dry bacon on paper towels.
  6. Saute veggies in pan (maybe using some of the bacon drippings) until they’re crisp, but not cooked all the way. Start with the onions, then add mushrooms, then broccoli, and last tomatoes. Salt and pepper to taste. (the idea here is to remove moisture from the veggies to make the casserole nicer…)
  7. Add 2 cups cheese, and veggies to egg + bread mixture. Combine well, then add to 9×13 pan.
  8. Cover pan in foil, and in the oven it goes for 30 minutes.
  9. After 30 minutes, remove foil, then let finish cooking and browning for about 10-15 minutes more. You’ll know when it’s done…
  10. Enjoy!
ajoBlog Edtech

Ajo Blog: Are you tired of #edtech promoters?

Twitter is one of the greatest resources for us teachers to get access to information about just about anything. However, I’m getting a little tired of users promoting just about anything, for whatever reason. Especially, when it comes to #edtech stuff, like what’s the best site for this and that? “Here’s a suggestion, but I know nothing about it!

Too many users promote too many tools that they haven’t tried, or haven’t used with their students, and the problem is this: When I go to try it, or use it with my students, taking your word for it, too often it turns out to be less than awesome… So, to help you, and all of us in the #edtech community (which is any teacher using technology at all!), and to possibly rectify the solution, I offer some questions you might want to ask yourself before blindly promoting the latest “amazing” piece of #edtech that will solve all of our problems. Remember, #edtech is only supposed to support and augment, not do your job!

Questions to think about before promoting #edtech:

  • Have you used it at all? For how long?
  • Have you used it with your students? How?
  • Have your students used it? To what success?
  • Do you have online projects you’re willing to share, using the #edtech in question? Will you share that URL?
  • Was the experience with the piece of #edtech flawless, or were there “issues”? What were they?
  • Is it commonly accessible? Or do you expect me to break protocol to get to it? Or hack a firewall?
  • Do you have to pay for it? Is it worth paying for? Do you pay for it?
  • Has it already been promoted too much, like Glogster, or Wallwisher? (which do not seem to work most of the times…)

So, the next time you’re thinking about re-tweeting some #edtech advice, feel free to think about the questions above, and if you answer “No” to most of them, is it still worth promoting?