New entry in my Kilt blog 9/21/2011

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Short Men in Kilts and other foolishness

February 28, 2008 Saturday

This is a rewritten post I made to the xmarksthescot forum July 23, 2008.

As short guys who wear Kilts know there are problems sitting down in a kilt. It's not the pleats as they are a miner aggravation that is easily overcome. However men come in different heights from very short to very tall. Regardless of height or weight a mans “stuff” (you know those things that so shock Americans if they are seen) are all approximately the same size. There are exceptions as can be seen by watching porn, going to a gym, visiting a nudist camp or going through boot camp but by and large all men are about the same.

15 years old, 6 feet tall , a new kilt and the world by the tail.

Not so with waist to knee cap distance. The distance between the navel or waist and knee cap varies widely. A man with a 24 inch length has a 6 inch advantage over a man with a 18 inch(me) length. The kilt gets shorter in back as he sits down and if he has any butt at all it gets way shorter. For a man of my girth (43-42-44 inches) and a butt it gets shorter than your “stuff”. Hot vinyl car seats can be painful. Don't sit on a glass coffee table while someone is under it. You will be exposed. Concrete bleachers are out especially in winter. Anything with splinters is out. Don't even consider outdoor furniture with an open weave especially the plastic kind that not only gets hot but loose things get caught in. You could end up with a chair hanging out of your kilt when you get up. Don't sit on a log with rough bark. Your really don't want to sit on anyones lap unless you know them well or want too. For those with long belly button to knee cap length this is not near so much a problem. They have other problems to be sure but it usually involves their other head and I mean the one that sits on top of their neck.

The problems with sitting for short guys are not insurmountable and can be overcome but even at my age I am still aware of my “stuff” at all times so sometimes I would really rather stand thank you.

Believe it or not riding a bicycle is OK and is actually more comfortable than shorts.

Riding a horse bareback would be fine in a kilt as well. I have not done that but I have done it naked. I mentioned that here.
and I assure you I have experience. I doubt I could sit a horse for more than a 5 minutes now without serious pain (hips) but for those 5 minutes I would prefer skin to skin. You become one with the horse. I know some will say that I must be some kind of nut case but don't knock what you haven't tried. I first read of this in "Sailing Alone Around the World" by Joshua Slocum. Of course I had to try it. This book is an excellent read even for a non sailor. I have read it several times and I get caught up in it everytime.

The problem with many Kilt wearers is they would get their kilt dirty. They exist to wear their kilt. I don't exist to wear any kind of clothing. I wear clothing to cover my fat ass and not get arrested so horseback riding, gardening, working on my bicycles or baking in a kilt works for me. When they get dirty I just wash them.


50 years ago today I went to church. I went there to say "I do". Well it didn't work out as time went by and I am sorry for that but I have never been sorry we tried. The years of happiness and the accumulated memories completely overcome the fleeting pain. I have never known a finer woman and that is good because that trip to church intertwined our lives in ways that can never be undone. You see we have a daughter that is us and better than us.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Proof Reading Old Post or age related memory loss

February 27, 2009 Friday

This blog has been part of my life for over a year now (since Feb 13, 2008) and I can't believe that I have let the anniversary go by without notice. I only discovered this when I looked back to see if I had posted anything on a subject that I am working with now. On looking back I found duplicate pictures , misspelled words and gibberish. I corrected some but I guess I need to figure out some system so that I don't write the same thing over or publish pictures that I have already used. That seems a lot like work.

(I am aware the word “images” is more correct than “pictures” but I like “pictures.”)

I have a new post ready (almost) but I am going to have to read it a dozen more times first. Plus, I need to go back over everything since I started because I discovered today that I had written a short account of the daring 1984 rescue by air machine of a damsel in distress in February of 2008. I am embarrassed but my memory is getting so bad that I will forget it all soon. I may even forget that I was embarrassed. I used to keep list so that I would not forget stuff but now I forget to put things to remember on the list. If anything is really important, you know like life and death, then I put it on a sticky on my monitor. Then I ignore it.

“If I Only Had A Brain” from Wizard of Oz” is my theme song. (A coke head once ask me why it was called “wizard of ounce”. Duh.)

It's 72 degrees out and due to be at least 80 today so I'm going to go ride my bike and think about this depressing chore later.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Where Are You From?

February 24, 2009 Wednesday
New Orleans from 25 miles south ^

When I'm asked "where are you from?" I am truly at a loss. I don't know if I should tell you where I was born, where I grew up or where I lived last. Maybe I should just take an hour or so and tell you where I am really coming from. I was from Arkansas when I was in high school in Texas, I was from Texas when I was in the Navy and I was from California when I was in Nevada and Hawaii. I was from Hawaii when I was cruising on my boat in California in the '80's and I was from the Estados Unidos when I lived in Mexico. Where the hell am I from?

On the interwebtubespipes I am from North America and am a citizen of the USA. At least everyone knows where that is and has a relative here or wants to kill everyone here. I have lived in the USA, Mexico and spent enough time in the Canadian banana belt to call it my own. I count Hawaii as a foreign country even though in name it is a state.

I was born in 1939 in a house on Park Street in Little Rock, Arkansas and raised to the age of 16 in the pine woods west of that fair city but that place is buried under modern development and aliens now so it no longer exist. So I am from a place that no longer exist? I went to country schools (Brady and Joe T Robinson) until the 10th grade I went to the tenth grade at Central High School in Little Rock the year before it was integrated. (I still can't believe the National Guard had to be called out to get those idiots to to do the right thing.) I have stories about those years that I hope to get to tell and I hope someone cares but don't go looking for where I'm from because you won't find it.

My step dad was a printer and my parents thought the opportunities were a little better in Texas so away we went. I think they were wrong but what the hell it was their life and they were entitled to their own mistakes. They may have been avoiding the coming unrest in Little Rock as well. They new what the right thing was and were definitely in the minority. I don't fault them their decisions.

So I went to high school in Ysleta Texas, became an apprentice printer at the El Paso Times and joined the Navy to get the hell out of there. I had known since I was a preteen that I was going to the Pacific Ocean so it wasn't a surprise to me. It probably was to my family however.

That put me in California and I took to it. It beat the crap out of any other place I had been and by the way it still does. I met a girl and then !@#$%^&&**()_+ and I was happy. One day +_)(*&^%$^_) and I was not. I spent a lot of my life in California and really grew up there if you can call what I am as grown up. It was the 60's you know. Some of us were stunted for life.

I went from there to Nevada, to Hawaii, to Mexico, to Arizona and Louisiana. I lived for some time in all those places and I have visited every state in the union.

So where am I from? I'm from Earth in general and North America specifically. North America is my back yard and whatever is in front of my tent flap is my front yard.

I have spent the day baking bread (yum) and making planter beds for the garden. See what happens when you sniff all that yeast and sawdust. Makes you think weird stuff.

--Some planter beds last year


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Steampunking my Goggles

February 18, 2009 Wednesday
While casting about looking for something to do that wouldn't be useful so as to avoid work I went into the “Workshop”. That was a mistake. That was not the place to look. The “Work” in workshop was a dead give away. It looks like a two work day job just cleaning that place up enough to be able to tinker on stuff.

I remember the day I worked in there last. It turned off cold and I dropped everything, turned off the light and left. That was months ago. Today I took a picture, grabbed some tools and left (work depress me). The tools were to make a farm repair to a 100 year old table that came apart in my six foot tall 15 year old (baby Huey) grandsons hands. It wasn't his fault. It looks like someone had made a temporary repair 20 years ago and it didn't hold up. I made another with sheetrock screws and I'll bet it will outlast me.
That didn't take near long enough so I got out these goggles I bought in January. I have already found them useful riding in cold windy weather. Not that I do much of that. The will be used when working with the Dremel and at the grinder. I will be doing a lot of that in the spring.
See goggles here .

They're just plain plastic glossy black welders goggles and that ain't near good enough for a long haired old man who wears aloha shirts with a camo kilt and “cat and the hat” socks so I rummaged around in the lamp building box and come up with some magic brass goop that I use to touch up brass and not so brass stuff. Here are the results.

For now that's enough. I have some antique copper paint that on this kind of plastic looks like dark maroon leather and I may do that later. They need a led light(red) too and a swing down magnifying glass. Maybe I could add a smokestack and a steam whistle as well. See how it can get away from you? Needs a leather strap too. Oh my. And a gear somewhere.

Oh yeah, the gun is a world war 2 vintage 36mm flare gun that was carried on merchant ships. It's bronze and weighs 1.9 kilos (4 1/8 lbs). Who needs a ray gun. Looking down the barrel of this thing is like looking into a cave.

Here is a picture of the goggles in transition. The buckle is 40+ year old brass. The round thing next to it is the magic brass goop. You don't get much for 5 bucks. It's literally a cap full. Says gold but in small print it says 3050 Brass. Applied with the high tech applicator next to it (Dollar General tissue paper or what we all call Kleenex). I could have covered the plastic completely but it really looks old and worn letting the black show through. Artsy fartsy stuff you know.I got this idea from MRX Designs . Check him out he does some really nice work.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Gears

February 17, 2009 Tuesday
I am not a window blinds kind of person probably because of the cheap plastics pieces of garbage I have carried out as trash over the years. If I have any kind of window covering at all it's rollers shades because they are cheap and when they are up the window is completely uncovered. Even the cheapest last for years. I have some I have been using for almost 30 years.

A window is not much good if it's covered. Exceptions are made for hurricanes when the window covering is metal roofing sheets. It's a very industrial look.

This guy has changed my mind about blinds. Spirals By Steve makes them of wood with some beautiful expose wooden gears to look at. Great gears. These are works of art that hang in your window. I will never in my wildest dreams be able to afford something like this but if I were going to have blinds it would have to be these.

It's the gears. I'm fascinated with gears and the workings of things exposed.

There is a you tube demo on the website. And free plans to build your own. Turn up the sound as there are some great gear sounds.

Did I mention that I like the gears?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Contemplating Earths End or the end of mankind and how I learned to love it

Friday the 13th, February, 2009

This planet that humans call Earth is a time and space vehicle on which we are merely passengers. We can not steer it nor change its destination we can only ride and until recently we could not even get off if we did not care for it. For most of us getting off earth is not an option so we can only choose to ride dead or alive. That being the case why do we trash it? I can understand trashing it because of ignorance but whole societies without the benefit of higher education have managed to minimalize trashing their ride. Ignorance can be cured. Education, information and guidance is the cure.
After ignorance is cured and we are aware that we are trashing our nest but we continue anyway is stupidity. There is no cure for stupidity.

The earth doesn't care what we do. It was here for billions of years before we were even crawling around in the slime and it will be here in some form or other for billions of years after we have departed. Unless of course, the sun goes nova or it is disintegrated to build a new hyperspace on ramp then it will still be here just not in the conventional sense. Even a massive gamma ray burst will leave the earth intact. We'll just be fried.

I have been reading and watching video lectures lately of the earths origins and it's trials and tribulations. I do this every 5 or 6 years and at least every 10 years to reaffirm my insignificance. There is speculation about mans destruction of earth. What arrogance. We can't even control the weather and only recently has been able to predict it with some minimal accuracy. We can't control even the smallest volcano or earthquake. We could probably do these things someday but I doubt we'll last long enough to do it. Although we can' t destroy the earth we can destroy our ability to live on it. Not to worry however, the universe (at least our universe out of the multi verses) is probably going to do that for us with a shrug of its mighty shoulders.

If you want to have some fun with this and feel insignificant yourself then go to and get a load of that. It is plenty funny if you don't read the comments. Comments seems to be where the juveniles play. Stupid really comes into play there. The author has been reading and watching the same things I have and boils it down so that it is quick and funny with lots of pictures. He makes impending doom funny as it should be.

I also recommend Michio Kaku short lectures on You Tube. He is brilliant but spells it out in plain language. Very interesting.

Due to weather, aches and pains and the fact that I have been having so much fun learning stuff I haven't been making or tinkering lately but tomorrow that all changes. I am going to the motel where SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed) and my youngest princess are tonight and spend the day listening to the girls squeal, laugh and giggle. SWMBO and I are even going into the bar for a watered down over priced gin. She's buying. After all tomorrow marks 25 years since I plucked her out of the desert in my air machine. Least she can do is buy me a drink.

After I get over the depression of the princess leaving Sunday I'm going to get busy. That is if a gamma ray burst or a black hole doesn't get us.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Battery 101

February 10, 2009 Tuesday
I have been asked a few questions about batteries recently so I thought I'd write a piece called battery 101. It's purpose is to inform the most casual small battery user of the things they need to know. I am not an expert and certainly not up to date in the field. In my social and financial strata I am not an early adopter so I don't get the latest stuff. It has to come to the discount store before I can use it. That's the disclaimer.
What people commonly refer to as a flashlight battery is not a battery at all but is a dry cell. Dry because there is no liquid in them. Wet cells, such as the cells that make up a car battery, have a liquid in them. When dry cells are placed together in batteries then they are a battery.
The common D, C, AA, AAA cells are not batteries even though they have been mistakenly called so since at least the 1920's and I suspect longer but I was really young then and I don't remember. Two or more cells placed together becomes a battery whether it's wet or dry. Notice in the picture above that the AA and the C cell are same length. In a pinch a AA can be substituted for a C cell by wrapping it with paper, tape or old bicycle inner tubes to make it fit the holder. It won't last as long as the C cell but it will do in a pinch.

There are some batteries that look like cells. For instance the 12volt A23. It is a battery comprised of eight 932 button cells, usually alkaline, which are wrapped in a cylinder that looks like a half size AA cell.

Another example is a nine volt battery. It is six cells in one little square case each about the diameter of a pencil and soldered together in series to make 9 volts.

The 2032 battery that is used in computers and really small led flashlights you can wear is made up of two cells sandwiched together to make 3 volts so it is a battery. In general the button cells used in hearing aid and flashlights are cells and are called button cells.

Dry Cells vary in voltage from about 1.55 for a
very strong alkaline to 1.2 and slightly above for a rechargeable.
This little device is handy to have. It test cells under load. It will keep you from throwing away perfectly good batteries. No skill required.

I use alkaline cells in things I don't use much (emergency flashlights) because of their long shelf life and I use rechargeable for things I use a lot (camera). I don't buy those marked heavy duty as they are just the old carbon zinc cells and nearly useless because they don't last at all. Unless you can get them for free or nearly so don't buy.
I recently changed one of the emergency flashlights in my car because the plastic the flashlight was made of came apart.I have had it since someone left it on my boat in the mid 1980's so I guess I got my moneys worth. The alkaline batteries had been in it for over two years and are still fine and very usable I started to duct tape it back together but the glue in duct tape doesn't hold up well here in the summer and it is coming.
Another example is in my portable radio. It came with rechargeables but I use it as a portable so seldom that the rechargeable are nearly always dead. Recargeables don't seem to hold the charge very well. They remind me of a bucket I use to have. It had a really small leak but it was OK for carrying water. If you set in on the table full of water by morning it would be about a quarter full and you would need a mop. At least with these battery cells you don't need a mop. I hear that there are some rechargeables that hold a charge while on the shelf now but I haven't had any yet. Mostly I keep my radio plugged in with alkaline's in it. During the power outage following Hurricane Gustave I used the radio practical all of my waking hours and it was still working fine after 5 days as were our led emergency lights. I didn't change a single battery during that power outage nor did I use any candles or liquid fueled lamps. I take it back we did light some candles but its because we are a couple of aging hippies and we like candles.
I like alkaline's for flashlights because when they start to run down you still have some usable light whereas rechargeables will give good light up to a point then within minutes be useless because their power does not go down linearly but stays fairly level until it is finished then just quits. Flashlights can also run rechargeables down excessively and that will reduce their life span and believe me they have a life span. Quality devices that use rechargeables will automatically shut off before this level is reached.
The rechargeables I'm using now are NiMH (nickel metal hydride) and they are new to me. I've use nickel cadmiums in the past and had really poor performance. NiCad battery chargers and NiMH chargers are not automatically interchangeable but there are some that will do both. Check the specs
Twenty years ago there were battery companies selling NiCads and claiming “up to” 1000 recharges. “Up To” in this case means fat chance. I never got more than 25 or so although I admit I lost count and within 5 or 6 recharges these batteries had about half the new capacity. These new NiMH claim “Up To” 100 recharges. I think that “Up To” means the same thing now as it did then. If they make it 25 times my cost will be about 10 cents a battery plus what ever I took out of the wall socket. We'll see.
I buy most of my batteries on the Intertubes now and I think all of them are made in China. I would not be surprised if they were made in the same factory. I buy the cheapest and only the ones that include shipping. I have not been ripped off yet. The A23 I mentioned earlier cost $11.99 plus tax locally for a pack of two and then only if you can find them. I got a name brand (Duracell) on line for $1.99 in my mailbox from South Carolina, two orders of button cells for watches one was $2.99 for ten really small and $3.99 for twenty of the larger ones. I also purchased ten 2032's for $2.99 delivered. These are all alkaline and have a shelf life of years although at these prices I can afford to use them. The mark up on batteries must be horrendous.

To sum it up:
Buy smart. Shop, prices vary widely.
Use the right charger for the battery and don't try to charge batteries that are not rechargeable. If you do that wear your goggles and buy fire insurance.
Use the Cell(battery) that fits the situation and have spares. I believe this comes under the heading of THINK.
Don't run your battery powered stuff like you do your TV. Turn it off when not in use. You'll be surprised at how much longer the cells (batteries) last

Unfortunately batteries are not green. They have heavy metals in them that you don't want in your water supply. If you just toss them in the trash that is where it will eventually end up. If you don't care then you can just take the button cells two at a time with a glass of water and it will work much faster. This stuff doesn't go away and it is lethal. There are many places that take hazardous waste and believe me these things are hazardous waste. I have about 15 pounds of it sitting behind my chair in the form of dead battery cells. They are no longer usable but they still have energy in them so I use them to run a homemade night light. Six dead cells will run single led for nearly two weeks 24 hours a day. Mileage varies depending on how dead the cells were. I run them down to under .3 volts then I will take them to the recyclers.

In the future I plan to eliminate as many batteries as possible by using hand crank emergency equipment. Currently I think these things are using a small battery to hold the charge you crank in but I believe in the future that will be changed to high capacity capacitors. Then no more batteries.

This is a battery holder with six cells in series which makes it a battery. I use it to run a led night light with dead batteries.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Pickin' Weeds

February 08, 2009 Sunday
Yes I go out in public in these

Finally today it is warm enough to be naked indoors. I do not find anything likable about sitting in front of the heater bundled up in winter. I read that some think that it is romantic but not me. I want light and warmth. Yesterday was the first day of warmth in my hovel but today was the first day I could get out of bed and not have to get dressed while still sitting on the bed. How nice.

Friday was a sunny day but cool for my taste but I had to go out. Out of wine you know. I went to the thrift store while out and picked up a few items including a genuine leather jacket in new condition for 5 bucks. It's a small bikers jacket and fits She Who Must Be Obeyed perfectly. I didn't know bikers came in small. SWMBO looks great in it. Lots of long fringe. She says she needs a Hog now and I reminded her that she already has a pig. ME.Other items include some raw material to make things such as brass stuff, some sewing stuff and 50 yards of 4strand candle wick. I already have 5 pounds of paraffin. There is over 2 pounds of brass here for $1.50. I don't know what I'll make but I'll think of something. Maybe a ray gun.
Anything to keep from doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

SWMBO and I went out to picks weeds to eat yesterday. Yum yum best mustard greens I've ever had. This a in dirt that has been dumped along side of the road. I don't know if it is to build a levee between the road and the swamp of if it is just to get rid of the dirt. It's not from one of the many canals that are being cleaned because it's not muck. It appears to be from a field of Mustard. Sweet peppery mustard. Weeds is good. I really hope it goes to seed and reseeds this area. It's likely that even if it does the parish(county) will plow it under or hit it with weed killer. That's what they do.

Here she is all hundred pounds of her going in for the kill.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Spittoon

February 5, 2009 Thursday
I have re-purposed my spittoon.
I don't chew anymore anyway.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Further feeding of my Lamp Fetish

February 4, 2009 Wednesday

I found this energizer flashlight some time after Hurricane Katrina and Rita in 2005 and I thought it would solve one of the problems of being without lights in a dark house. We have plenty of flashlights and other types of lanterns for power outages but what we needed was a light that could be on over night without needing massive amounts of battery cells. This seemed the answer. It has a single led in a reflector like a standard flashlight that will burn for several days but on top it had a very thin 3 inch florescent bulb that would burn for over a week. The only problem was that it was not even a little water resistant and the case This one opened and ejected the batteries just moving it from the desk to the work table.

is so poorly designed that the battery case pops open at the slightest provocation. Things like carrying it in your pocket, or moving it from one hand to the other or even just holding you mouth wrong.

The reflecting silver completely disappeared and the rubber hand grip rotted off within a year while carrying it in a car but that's OK because the batteries were always elsewhere and the battery cover was missing as well. The two others I have in the house faired a little better but at three years they are deteriorating. I am not impressed with Energizers quality control. For $14.00 plus tax I expect a little more
The red and black clipped wires are where the florescent tube was attached. The battery springs had major corrosion. I can make it work by applying voltage to the solder joints.

especially since they probably paid less that 50 cents for it. This one finally developed a bad case of corrosion internally and with no way to clean it up without destroying the case I put it in the “just in case” (junk) box. Thats the bad part. The good part is that I hung one of the others over my desk with some string for 5 days during the power outage associated with Hurricane Gustav and had plenty of bright white light.

This Little 7 inch 6 volt battery powered lamp came from the local Goodwill store for two bucks. It's good quality brass plate with a polished stainless reflector. It seems to be missing its base but that didn't bother me I can fix that. It was set up with a four cell internal AA battery box, switch and a screw in flashlight bulb. Immediately usable but I thought how nice it would be if I took the florescent tube from the Energizer and incorporated it in this housing I would have a desk lamp that would operated for a week on batteries and practically forever if hooked to my bus 12 volt system. So I did and it does.

Taking the Energizer flashlight apart completely destroyed the case as I expected however once it was apart and I could get to its innards to clean up the corrosion and connect power it worked fine. The battery terminals were buried so they could never be cleaned and what's more the connection corroded internally in the solder so that it was effectively an open circuit. I took the florescent tube out and installed it in the new lamp and I now have a nice little lamp perched on the edge of my desk. At night it is very effective in ligthing just a little of the mess when I just can't bear to look at the whole thing. I am going to need a big garbage sack whenever I clean that up.