Saturday, January 31, 2009
What you see here is a fat ass covered in some very nice comfortable wool. The kilt is finished. There are probably a few things I will do to it yet but it is on me as I write this and anything I do from now on will be tweaking. It come under my rule of “if it ain't broke then fix it until it is”.
"Trousers are a western absurdity." Author C Clarke
I really dislike pants.
Friday, January 30, 2009
I spent the whole morning getting over waking up this morning. After a morning of contemplating my navel and thinking about the state of the country, the world and in fact the whole universe I finally realized that no amount of picking lint out of my belly button was going to help anything. It certainly wasn't going to stop me from pining for The Light of my Life (I have two of them so it's a double whammy). I decided to read my current book and just screw everything else. Even though it is probably the most positive book I have read in a many years I just couldn't overcome the ache in my ankles enough to concentrate on it so back to the new kilt construction. At least that is constructive even when I am going backwards.
The new kilt is coming along fine. The pleating is finished and sewn in. The hems at either end are folded and sewn in. The stabilizer that goes around the waistband is installed. Prior to that it was tried on and fitted which required ripping out some stitching and adjusting to make the front aprons left side not curl out. Now what's left is finish work all of which is tedious and time consuming. Maybe I'll be in the mood tomorrow.
It's going to be a nice American kilt and since I am a nice American that suits me.
This is my pin cushions one of which is steam punk. Guess which one.
This is my sewing kit made of bamboo. I really like bamboo in that like hemp it is a natural substance that makes a lot of earth friendly products. I finally have some and if I could just decide where to plant it I could be making things of bamboo soon.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
One of my most prized possessions when I was a boy was a book given me by my parents for Christmas entitled “The Boy Mechanic” 700 things for a boy to do copyright 1913. After the episode with the “Arc” (see my post of January 15, 2009) you would think they would have been a little more cautious. I devoured that book and in the process made a number of things including my first microscope and ammeter. I was most interested in thing involving electricity, chemicals and, um, things that made smoke.
Here is what John Lienhard, at the University of Houston, said of this book at
It's also long on things that explode. My favorite is the Fourth-of-July Catapult. This is nothing less than a pipe bomb that flings a life-sized mannequin a hundred feet into the sky. The mischief goes on for 460 pages: how to play magician and levitate a lady; how to make an object roll uphill.
Oh, the other stuff was there -- how to make a lamp or a tie rack or a coin purse. But that's not why we young boys read books like this back when the world was young. We read them because they told us how to engage all that delicious danger. We read them because they spoke to boys for whom risk-taking was a rite of passage. And we all had friends who were hurt fulfilling those rites.
He is so right.
I read every page in that book and tried a lot of it. Unfortunately (fortunate for my parents) I couldn't get some of the more dangerous chemicals even back in the 1950's. It's even harder now as the government tries to protect us from ourselves by depriving us of our fundamental right to blow ourselves up. I suspect that budding mad scientist can get around this.
I'm not sure what happened to the book but I think I gave it to my cousin. I now have a digital copy that anyone can get free on the internet from
The Boy Mechanic: Volume 1 by Popular Mechanics Co - Project Gutenberg
There are still copys of this book around and I now have a hard copy of Volume ll copyright 1915 with a 1000 more things for a boy to do some which will cause loud noises, smoke, sparks and parental stress. This volume is 94 years old but I still handle it regularly and I suspect it will outlive me.
There are many things in these books that will inspire a young mind no matter how old you are. Only this last month I learned how to pressurize common household cooking gas. That's important if you want to fill balloons with it. I don't have a source of gas to practice with but maybe that's a good thing. I never did find a formula for black powder but it's probably just as well as it is very unstable in the manufacturing process. Even the professional commercial manufacturers blow themselves up every once in a while. When I was a budding boy mad scientists I did find a basic recipe in the encyclopedia at school but I could never get it to do anything but burn hot, smoke and stink which was OK too. With the help of friends I determined that a dozen firecrackers emptied of their powder (black powder in those days I believe) and repackaged in creative ways would do substantial damage to property. This book steered me away from making loud noises and toward making things before I blew off any of my fingers or burnt my hair. Many of my projects involved saws however and you can guess where that went.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
January 24, 2009 2009 Saturday
I worked on the new kilt today but between riding my bike, taking a nap and the inability to make a decision this is all the further I got. I just could not decide if I should stick with this knife pleat or undo
everything and go with a box pleat. I finally decide that what the hell I have enough fabric to do one of each. I'm only doing the knife pleat because I've not done one before. I've done a couple of reverse Kingussie and one box pleat but never a knife pleat.
This is not a traditional Kilt but one that I made to suit me which makes it a contemporary kilt. I have a traditional casual kilt but I've kind of tweaked that design to suit me for this one. What I make to fit me suits me very well. I make a light and sometimes very light kilt because I live in the south and even when its cold the heavy kilts of the Scottish highlands are just too much.
This one is in 11 ounce wool. I've worked with polyester, cotton and acrylic but this is the first wool. I love it. It's a lot like the acrylic which has been my favorite so far but I like the wool better I think. I just like wearing wool.
The pleats are folded, steam ironed and pinned. 116 pins plus or minus for starters and there will be more. Then the sewing starts. I'm doing this one on a machine. My first was in shirting flannel (against all kilt builders recommendation so naturally I had to do it) and sewn mostly by hand. It was a terrible job but it's so comfortable I wear it anyway. When I find a flannel I like as much as that one I'm going to do another because it is so comfortable. I'll do a better job next time.
This fabric came from a thrift shop and its 3.6 yards 60 inches wide 11 ounce wool tweed for just a dollar seventy five. What a deal.
January 25, 2009 Sunday
I haven't done a lick on the kilt today but it's so dark, cold and dreary there is nothing for me outdoor so I'll get to it. My Old Fool website was broken this morning and I had to fix it. At least I hope it's fixed. It was brought to my attention by a new old friend that makes me feel young again.
Last night I was rummaging around in the TV channels just before bed like I sometimes do when I get too cross eyed to read (wine and old age will do that) and I ran across a movie that had wheels, gears, lots of wires, electricity and sparks. Lots of sparks. Turned out to be a vampire movie but then they brought out a steampunked Frankenstein monster whose head was a jig saw puzzle with green sparking veins and an external green heart. Couple that with werewolves, flying vampire women with the most amazing mouths and a six horse carriage chase scene and I was hooked. I liked the 18 century Transylvania scenery and the horny monk but it was the steampunked monster that turned out to be a good guy that got me. The crossbow Gatling gun was a nice touch. I'm downloading it now. The 13 year old in me is so easily entertained.
January 23, 2009 Friday
This morning I looked into my box of dreams and there was nothing in there. No dreams, no goals and no big plan just some dusty old memories. How did this happen? What do I do? I have never been out of dreams before. I have been to the bottom of that barrel but there always was something but not this time. Just those old cob webs on those old memories. Over the years as old dreams were used they were replaced with a new one and sometimes with several. Somewhere along the way I have failed to take care of the inventory.
Even my goal folder is empty. The goal folder is a manila accordion type and it's not exactly empty as there are some old goals that were dropped for lack of interest but they're useless now. I don't know why I've kept them around. The part of the folder with the “goals achieved but not yet perfected” has a few things but the “perfecting” part is where it begins to be work and not fun. It borders on "projects" which is another word for work. I have plenty of projects but I avoid them by piddling around with artsy fartsy stuff so there are always projects but they are not dreams.
My concern is with the lack of dreams and also goals. I have always thought that people with no dreams and not goals were dead or as good as and that can't be. I'm too young to be dead.
I worried about that this morning until I was in such a frenzy bordering on despair that I was making too many mistakes on the kilt that I was pleating and had to quit. It is a beautiful day so I got on my bike and went out to look for some new dreams. I didn't find any but I did find a variation of “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” one. It's called “looking for paradise”. Although I have chased that dream most of my life and had so many disappointments maybe I can dust it off and use it again.
Meanwhile I am in the market for some new dreams.
We are on the cusp of the Dark Month of February. It has always been a month of dark thoughts and despair for me. It's that time when I just want to sit in the garden and eat worms. I need a potion.
Oh well back to the new kilt. Progress report tomorrow.
January 18, 2009 Sunday
When things get too serious I tend to fix on something small, insignificant and non related to the seriousness. Today I have read and seen some thought provoking things (thanks to “just a girl”) that cause me to want to talk about the little bottle.
I found this little jewel in my local thrift store “The Good Samaritans” for 10 cents. I had to have it. It is four and one half inches to the top of the neck. The stopper is plastic and will be replaced with something else I think. Cork probably but this stopper suits me for now because of its shape.
It holds exactly two fluid ounces. I thought at first it would be a perfect bottle for my invisibility potion but the invisibility potion is already in a bottle labeled GIN. Then I decided it would be perfect for the eloquence potion but that is also in a bottle labeled GIN and so is the bravery and strength potion. I don't have any opium to put in it so that's out. I guess I'll just have to use it for the poison bottle. That's also in the GIN bottle but here I mean the concentrated kind. It is just the right size and shape for that. No! Posion gives me the creeps. Maybe a youth serum. There seems to a lot of that around if the spam I get in my yahoo email is any indication.
I would really rather have it for the sex potion but I can't remember why. Maybe it will come to me.
Meanwhile I'll have some relax potion that comes in a bottle labeled WINE.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The United States of America made a step forward yesterday and a significant one. After many years of taking steps backward we the people have made one forward and it is a big one. Not only did we elect a leader from a minority group but we managed to get him into office without some crackpot doing him in. The people did this. It has given me some hope. Maybe now the founding fathers will stop rolling in their graves.
We the people have removed one of the big clubs that our critics both foreign and domestic like to use against us. We have shown that we are willing to practice what we preach. Now I hope we can go on to show the world and ourselves that we do know right from wrong and that we do not live with the policy that the end justifies the means. It is not going to be easy as those that have had us taking steps backward have been very thorough in their deconstruction. It's going to be like losing weight. It will take twice as long to take it off as it did to put it on.
I'm looking forward to the government circus being over and the work starting. I'm sure that some of the
performers are as well. Being a heathen I have not invented a god for myself so I can't ask gods help and I know the pious can't help following their superstitions. I just wish they would pray a little faster so that the work can start.
“Separation of church and state my ass”
Now on with my work. It's too cold to be outside (for me at least 28*F this morning) so today I am taking the scissors to a beautiful piece of wool fabric. I will turn it into either a new kilt or trash. I have my flying pig watching.
I am collaborating with my house plant "Hugo the Giant Radish" also.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
When I was a boy of about 12 someone told me that if I had a couple of flashlight D cells, an old defunct toaster and electric cord with a plug on the end I could make an arc lamp that would melt glass. Oh yeah I would also need a brick. I found all that stuff and became empowered or I guess I should say dangerous. I had up until then done experiments, dabbled in electrics, chemistry, fire, leverage and explosions but never anything that could cause massive destruction both to myself and others as well. Well maybe I could have with fire but the fire truck got there in time. Oh what fun it was. Progress requires sacrifice. (maniacal laughter goes here)
I scrounged up the ingredients to this recipe and commenced to construct this wonderful device that would melt glass, burn through metal, make a lot of light and perhaps change the course of events in the entire world if not the universe. Taking the toaster apart I wound the resistance wire from inside around the red brick and attached one end of it to the electrical cord. I then took the flashlight cells apart and salvaged the carbon cores, sharpened one end of each with a pencil sharpener attached one to the other end of the toaster wire wrapping the connection with friction tape. The other carbon was attached to the other side of the electrical cord and wrapped with friction tape as well. Friction tape was what we thought of as insulating electrical tape. Like modern electrical tape it wasn't worth a crap.
The moment of truth had arrived. It was a dark, dark night, the family was safely in the living room watching Lucy on a 13 inch round screen console TV with my uncle and I was in the back in my dark, narrow hovel I called my laboratory doing life changing science. I plugged it in. I had already positioned a piece of glass on the workbench and taking a carbon in each hand touched them together. Sparks! oh goody. By carefully putting them together and then drawing them apart I established an arc. A very hot arc that when applied to the glass caused it to almost instantly melt. Oh joy, what fun for a while, then the glass exploded. I, of course, jump back and the bare wires of the electrical cord that I had neglected to tape came together and it became dark, very dark. I thought I had gone blind but then I saw that it was worse than that and I wished I had been killed. It wasn't just the laboratory that had gone dark it was the whole house including the TV (abominable thing). I could hear footsteps coming down the hall and see a flashlight waving back and forth. Then I heard the fuse box open and the fuse being removed and replaced. The lights came on, the fuse box door was slammed shut and there was no place to hide. Everyone was in my room and I didn't have even a few seconds to think up a lie. There was some one sided conversation as I recall but my mind has blanked that part out.
I was forbidden to mess with that device in the house ever again and encouraged (ordered) to dismantle it. Since there was no electricity anywhere else that was the end of the great glass melting experiment and it's just as well. During the short time I had it operating I burned my eyes and later that night I wanted to die because the pain was so bad. They put slices of Irish potatoes on my eyes but that is about as effective as aspirin for a migraine headache. I use to have migraines and I would rather have the migraine than the burnt eyes. I have never forgotten that episode as it gave me a healthy respect for ARC welding. I not only don't look but that experience with the “ARC” flashes back if I even hear an arc being struck.
Ever after that I always had the feeling that I was being watched for signs of another “experiment” but they never caught me except for the time I tried to seal up the end of a pipe with a live firecracker inside with candle wax. How was I to know it was hot enough to ignite the fuse?
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
If you have a reoccurring dream of the same person(s) or place(s) that you recognize as having dreamt of before but would recognize in person if you saw them(it) even though you have never actually seen them(it) in the flesh is it the same as real?
If you have a dream that is etched permanently in your memory that can be recalled the same as any other memory is it the same as a real happening . If the experience can be recalled as if it happened does it count as experience. If motor skills that are developed in dreams work do they count?
I dream in color. I dream whole stories beginning, middles and ends. I dream of friends and acquaintances in new settings and situations and never in a bad context but sometimes uncomfortable. Sometimes I remember all of them but usually only little pieces here and there just like real life is remembered. I have seldom dreamed bad things like monsters or falling. If fact the only bad thing that I remember was the spider episode but that might have had to do with alcoholic beverages. The same with the fire episode. My wife (SWMBO) says that I dreamt those things multiple times back in the 80's but I only remember once and that because I took a head first dive out of the bunk onto the mess table. I am not afraid of spiders so I don't know what that was about. I am told of things that I did that I don't remember at all but I have to accept them because with a little prodding I sometimes do remember at least partially which puts my not remembering in doubt. As I said before that may be linked to the enormous amounts of gin I drank in those days.
The worst of the bad dreams was showing up for work without all or part of my uniform or being unable to call in (as required) because I couldn't remember the number or dialing multiple times and being unable to get the dialing right. That was always happening with a rotary dial. That happened many years ago when I was living a double life.
Photo may be Bremerton, Washington degausing anchorage aboard the USS Mansfield DD728 "I think" that was a long time ago and seems like a dream. 1960 or thereabouts.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Written from January 8 to the 11th.
The first thing I want to address this year is that when I become the “All Powerful Benevolent Ruler Of All Things In The Universe” I am going to change the way years are numbered. I want the years to start when the earth formed. It's hard but it can be done. For now we have an arbitrary number applied based on a fictional birth date of a Christian icon. OK Jews do it different and so do the Chinese but here in the US of A we are stuck with 2009 years since the arbitrary birth date of JC or Haysus to some.
I had a great plan for my first post of this year but that got blown all to hell by a email through a www.oldfool.org comment from an old friend. If you have read these post then you have already seen him in the words I spoke for Bob Moore when he passed. The person I consider my dearest friend was coming to visit. We have known each other for 37 years and we have been through a lot, some of it together and some of it not but still shared. This man knows things about me that my mother never knew and my wife doesn't know now. We had not seen each other in at least 15 years and it didn't matter as we took up where we had left off just like it was yesterday. Of course we have been in communication over these years on a more or less regular basis. He hand writes letters to me and I type letters to him. He is the last person that I communicate with in that old style. I would like to handwrite letters as he does just to keep that art alive but my penmanship is so shaky now that it looks like code. So we knew what was going on in each others lives but visual contact and being in the same air is different. It ain't going to be that long again if I have to skateboard to his place in Florida. Now there's a scary thought.
He and his bride had to go so the visit was not near long enough but they had their reasons and I understand them. If we live I will see them again. If you just have one true friend you have all you need. I have that and a little more.
Xmas or whatever you want to call the holiday season (fill in the X to suit yourself) that just past was uneventful and kind of sparse. Being heathens we celebrate winter solstice and Santa Clause Day. I pretty much stay undercover for fear of being blown up by the neighbors and others who celebrate by getting drunk and setting off explosives just like all other holidays here. From the middle of December until after January first and the kids are back in school it sounds like a war zone around here. We used to see the occasional nativity scene but I think they all got blown up.
The one outstanding and delightful thing that happened was that the grandkids, their mother and her significant other came on Xmas day and we (SWMBO* and I) had a very pleasant time. The first I can remember in a long time. The holidays are usually marked by argument and depression. Not this time however as love reached into every dark corner and chased the demons away. Nothing was done to excess including eating and everyone seemed to be happy to be with each other. I only remember one other holiday years ago (I think it was a thanksgiving) that was like that. It is unknown if drugs were involved. Seems I married into a dysfunctional family and coming from a totally functional loving family I was unprepared. I was in shock for several days. I am usually happy if no shots are fired. I went to bed xmas night with a satisfied mind. I wonder if someone slipped me a mickey.
What's with this tomato (on the right)? It's January and this dead plant has risen from the dead. Lazarus shall be its name. This thing was over four feet tall when the cold weather hit it and I thought it had died dead. I set it in the ground a week before hurricane Gustav (last week of August) and it stood unprotected through that storm. It grew up strong an gave us more than a dozen nice tomatoes then after the cold weather it turned black, withered up and died I thought. I was out the other day cleaning out the last years tomato beds and when I come to this one I had a resurrected Plant. It's alive, it's alive. I trimmed all the dead stuff, shaped it's eyebrows and put some lipstick on it, talked to it about the meaning of life and promised plant food. Being coy it didn't say anything.
The picture on the left is sometime in September before it started producing.
After a couple of weeks of unsuitable weather and holiday magic I'm back on the bike again at least for today Here's a shot of a beautiful day from a half mile east of downtown Bayou Blue, La on hwy 182 on one of my shopping trips. A shocking shopping trip as I found everything I came for including a pair of much needed goggles and some surprises.
These will be handy when the wind is blowing the dirt and/or it's cold. The sight of me on the big yellow bike makes little kids run and hide. My “dog etiquette device” (cable with two heavy locks at the end) has the same affect on dogs.
I have discovered a steady supply of yard eggs not three blocks from my house. They are cheaper than the grocery store and they are so good. What a find. I love eggs and these are the real deal. Look is similar to those long haul eggs from far far away that are in the grocery store but the taste is rich and the color of the yolk doesn't appear bleached out. Now if I can just grow enough of something to trade.
Bread is food
That may seem obvious but the stuff in the grocery store labeled bread is not food. There are things in it that I can't pronounce and all that for more than 3 bucks a loaf. SWMBO* treats bread as an edible paper plate but I treat it as food. It's not called the staff of life for nothing. You can live on nothing but bread and water. So I bake bread. I have been pretty lax over this last year but I am back in the swing of things now. My sourdough starter Fred is back up to full power and my yeast bread skills are up to snuff. Yeast rolls are light and fluffy, the sourdough is sour and the artesian bread is crusty and chewy. I have learned to make the sourdough in a pressure cooker and the artesian in a dutch oven. Good eats.
Think you are unique?
If you think that you are unique just Google your name. You will find that there are a lot of “you” all with the same name. For myself I found 15 “me” on Facebook. My full name, at least the alias I go by, is all over the place. I'm a doctor in Colorado, a real estate agent in Texas, killing bugs illegally in Florida and contributing to the republican party in Virginia and that's only a partial list. There are hundreds of me and possibly thousands of me. That's depressing or maybe not. Maybe they will be blamed for my sins.
Dark Depths of Winter
January 11, 2009 Sunday/ Dark, cloudy high temperature 52*/this time yesterday it was 75*
February is looming just over the horizon and I am dreading it as it has always been my worst time of year. It's when dark and foreboding thoughts invade my mind. It all starts before the end of the year and I am sure it's caused by the decreased amount of light. For some years know I have prepared for it by using a lot of bright electric lights starting when the days get down to 12 hours of daylight. When I get up in the morning I turn on all the lights and leave them on until it is bright outside. I do it even if I feel just fine and that has made the affects of winter less pronounced but even with that February is still a bad month filled with dread. I am normally not a depressed person and it's a good thing because on the few occasions I have had that ailment I haven't dealt with it very well. This year I am trying to do something creative everyday and that seems to help. I also have resolved to talk to the ones I love and to force myself to write. These activities I avoid when I am down for fear I will bum someone out. I think it will have a positive affect on me which should not bum anyone out. The writing is going to be hard.
Meanwhile I just got an email from my daughter. Any communication with her always makes me feel good. Her mother had that affect on me as well. I have lots of indoor projects including a new wool kilt and in a few months I'll be worrying about about hurricane season and winter will be a dim memory.
* SWMBO – She Who Must Be Obeyed