New entry in my Kilt blog 9/21/2011

Monday, June 29, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Nostalgia-you can't have it if you don't have a memory. I guess I have one.

I took this picture in 1959 with one of those little brown boxes that Kodak called a "Brownie". At least I think I did. I was 20 years old. The band is the "Texas Trailblazers" and I ran around with these guys when I was in high school as some of them I was in school with. They were a very good western swing band and I believe as good or better than some who made the big time. Some have passed on to the big band in the sky.

I saw Ray Price and Willy Nelson on TV a few nights ago. I know Willy has had his up's and downs but talent always wins out. I thought Ray had disappeared. He has been one of my favorite singers since 1964 when I saw him sing in a dive in Dallas. I was there with my employer on a business trip and we were hopped up on whites and beer but I was aware when Ray Price started singing that I was in the presence of Greatness. This man put his whole self into his performance. In fact I believe that it was not a performance but a true outpouring of himself. The place was a dive so there couldn't have been much money in it. I was observing people even at that young age and I noticed when the dancing, groping and slurring conversation stopped and all faces were turned toward this man's performance. I guess I wasn't the only one impressed.

Willy looks like an old hippy (but then so do I) and Ray looks like a congressman. Both had the “Voice” and it was in good form.

Here is the URL if you are interested. Embedding is not allowed on this one.

It was on Huckabee's program and I only stumbled onto it as I am not a fan of that preacher. It is not a very good reproduction so do look around on utube at some of Ray Price's music. I think he is still a top notch singer in the United States country field. Steampunk it ain't.

Mike Huckabee, Willy Nelson and Ray Price together is an example of music transcending all differences.

Bear in mind that Ray Price was born in 1926. He will be 84 years old his next birthday.
He has seen a lot of history.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Making do

From a 35mm slide taken somewhere in the South China Sea from the deck of the USS Mansfield DD728 by me.

After two days of discovering what does not work I have now decided to call in the professionals. You see I have these 40 to 50 year old slides, both 35 and 16mm, that I want to digitize so I decided I could do it myself with what I had on hand. I was persistent and I did get a few acceptable images but all in all the most positive thing is I that found out what did not work.

First I tried just focusing my 8.2 megapixal digital camera on a free standing slide that was backlite. I got an image but it was really poor. The problem was that my camera's close up function will not focus with the camera closer than about 6 inches and I needed to be under an inch.
Next I tried a box with a hole in it for the slides backlight. I did get some recognizable images but the problem was the camera's auto exposure was getting a different signal at the sensor than what the lens was seeing.
Finally I just stuck the hand viewer up to the lens with some reflected light on the light diffuser and got a few acceptable images with the 35mm slides but with the 16mm slides I get nothing.

From a slide of the Golden Gate bridge from the north side taken by me 1960.

Like I said these slides are 40 to 50 years old and taken with a variety of cheap cameras and all with out the aid of a flash attachment. Cameras are much different now than they were then.

Why all this trouble? Well for one thing I have more time than money and I don't have a 100 slides I want. I may not even have 50 so you see it's not worth spending the money for equipment. So what is the hang up? The last time I used a mail photo service part of my film was lost. I got part of it back and since it was all shipped together I know they got it. Customer service was not nice and in fact I got the impression that they did not give a shit. There was one picture on the entire order that will not and in fact cannot ever be duplicated and it is the one that SWMBO (she who must be obeyed) reminds me of often. Of all the pictures I have taken of the "Princess" it is the ONE. All she has to do is mention the "balloon picture" and I know I'm in for it. 'nough said.

When all was said and done with this experiment I felt I had about the same results that this guy had.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Books

Riggs Library at Georgetown University is my Ideal library. It is perfect. This is where I want to go when I die. If I believed in heaven this is what it would look like to me.

Since my first Dick and Jane book I have been fascinated with books. Old books, new books, comic books, big books and in fact any books. How to books, story books, history books and reference books I like them all. Also any place that sells, houses and lends books. Book stores and library's are my church and my refuge. Just being in a bookstore gives me peace and comfort because time stops for me. If I go in knowing that there is no reason to hurry I quickly lose track of time and cannot give a reasonable estimate of how long I've been there. I was once ask by a girl friend, who had dropped me off at a bookstore while she went shopping, if I knew how long I'd been there. I said, "sure about an hour or so". It turned out to be "or so" as I had been there over four hours. If she had wanted to carry on with someone else she would have had a easy time of it. Just drop the book idiot off at the bookstore
If you are in a hurry don't go to a library or book store with me. It drives SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed) nuts (it's a really short drive) as she is a "in, find what she wants, then out" sort of person. She is a reader but she doesn't understand the book place experience. Not me, I'm there for the full experience. I hang out to savor the smell and the feel as well as find what I want. I often don't know what I want so I'm there to let the book find me.

Need and desire for the house of books started in Arkansas in Brady elementary school in the late 1940's. The school didn't have a library as such but it had a bunch of bookshelves on the stage at one end of the fifth grade room. The fifth and sixth grade room had a folding partition between them and the fifth grade room had a stage at one end. On that stage, when it was not being used as a stage, there were 6 or 8 large double bookshelves and that was our library. I was allowed to go there, sometimes even during class. I was already hooked on reading but this library gave me something else. It was a place with no windows to the outside but with many windows to the universe, a place that shut out the rude noises of the school, a place that calmed my fears (believe me I had plenty) and gave me escape. It was there that first traveled around the world, visited the jungles of Africa and traveled among the stars. More than once I had to be reminded that it was time to get back to my desk. The only thing I remember of that school year is the "library" and the teacher Mrs Hogan who, when I could not remember how to spell my last name (I guess it was a mind numbing summer), helped me with out making a big deal of it. It was the place where books became a religious experience. It expanded my desire from just reading books to wanting to be around books and to own books. It was downhill from there.

My only other access to books was the Book Mobile until I discovered the Pulaski County Library. Iit was like finding the ultimate Cathedral. We lived in the woods west of town but on Saturdays I could go and spend the day there. I was there so much that I was given access to the stacks so that I could read the piles of back issues of magazines like Popular Mechanics and Popular Science which I read all of. I read all the Black Beauty Books, the Tarzan books, all the Jules Verne, all the Tom Swift they had and so much science fiction that at one point I was taking home books to read that were so new they had not been on the shelves yet. I could go up the big staircase to the Little Rock City Library, find books and check them out through the County library. The city library fronted on the cross street. I had so much freedom there that when I got older (puberty) and certain questions arose about anatomy I would sneak into the adults only section and read for myself why that thing did what it did, how it did it, why and what I was supposed to do with it. That was a relief because I thought it was broken and no adult wanted to discuss these matters except for a few men in overcoats and sticky shoes on the streets who would teach you everything you needed to know. I still marvel at the thought of anatomy being unsuitable for young people. How backward. In those days things like anatomy and sex were to be learned in the barn and later in the back seat of a car like all good Christians. The library gave me power through knowledge

There was no money in those days so I never had occasion to find a bookstore. The book of the month club became my start in owning books. But in my lifetime I have found many magnificent book stores. There was the "Either Or" in Hermosa Beach, Ca. It always smelled of incense and was divided into little rooms. Your were invited to sit and read. There was the old "Book Rack" in Houma, La. Crowed, tight and cluttered with thousands of books. I loved it but I'm not so comfortable in where they are now and I can't put my finger on the reason why. It's still a great book store with just enough clutter to make it comfortable. My favorite is a book store in Moss Landing California by the name of "Yesterdays Books". A magic place for me. I bought several books there but the magic part was the first one A first edition of Antoine De Saint Exupery's Wind, Sand and Stars. I opened the cover and the copyright was 1939 the year of my birth and written there just inside the cover was "Mildred, October 15, 1939. Mildred is my mother's first name. SWMBO said "I think you were meant to have that". These are only a few of the many bookstores I have visited. I have so many memorys of bookplaces in my head that I can't remember what town many of them are in.

Cars and girls took me away for a while in my teens. I did four years of sea duty while in the Navy and became a young married so I didn't really have much time ashore that I could spend in a Library. There was only one ship that even had much in the way of books and I was only aboard for a little more than a month (in transit). I did work my way trough the small rack of books in the mess hall that was called the library and in fact that is were I was first introduced to Einstein's Theory of Relativity. I didn't understand it but it made me want to. Then there were the bookstores in China, lots of them. Thousands of books in English and all cheap. They were all copyright violations but I didn't know anything about that. Not that it would have made any difference at the time.

When I was a young adult fresh out of the Navy I discovered the Redondo Beach Library. It was a beautiful building in a park on the beach in Redondo Beach Ca. It's was a beautiful setting and I spent many hours there. There wasn't much time to read randomly as I liked to do while I was attending school but by a stroke of good luck I found my ""calling and soon had plenty of time. When I think "library" now that Redondo Beach Library is the place I think of. That was in the 60's and like everything it has gone away. According to Google maps the building is still there the the library has been moved. Just as where I grew up it now only exist in my memories.

I have found books and book places to be a comfort. Weird

More books.
And more books. There are more under the chairs, beds and in the front seat of cars. "She Who Must Be Obeyed" has two in progress in the front seat of her pickup truck (a Ford F150 of course). I cleaned mine out since I drive so seldom they would mildew.
I have more in boxes, somewhere. I think. It is an affliction or an addiction and I don't rightly know which.

Now it's time to mount my trusty bicycle and be off to the library.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Road Trip of sorts

Today was go home day for the Princess. She did well and I must say a lot better than myself. So we had a little road trip and I am blue again. I don't understand all the social obligations she has there with her dad and his family. I don't think she does either but I think he is trying to give her a family life the best he can and I think he is doing a good job. He is so much easier to deal with than her mother. He can actually plan ahead and then keep to the plan. She is to return for another week on July 10th. Between now and then there are trips to everywhere including Disney World in Orlando. (What recession?) She won't exactly be suffering. Grandma and I, on the other hand, have to put all her stuff away until she returns. Oh yeah, and deal with the empty spot. We are paying for the sins we committed against our grandparents.
My auto carriage, which I thought was on it's last legs, performed flawlessly. I didn't get a low oil pressure light until I got home. It's amazing what a little maintenance will do. It's only 22 years old but acts a lot older. The only part I really care about is the air conditioning. It was 96 degrees in some places I went today and It ain't a dry heat whatever the hell that's supposed to mean.

We did the transfer of the precious cargo at a Louisiana welcome center at the intersection of La641 and Highway 61.This walkway was there and said to me "come". It's like the "Yellow Brick Road" and I was compelled. It is a tiny little piece of property with the office in a house built in 1830 that was moved here. I wonder how many hurricanes that house has seen. I loved it and it's better than what I live in.

It is all arranged in the "Disneyland" illusion of lots of space and distance but this walk was probably not more than 600 feet. I loved it just the same. It takes you away from the highway and into the swamp momentarily. How nice.
Ending here. It was 93 degrees and humid so I did not hang around.

I found this delicious looking morsel in the grass there. It was about 3 inches long and a little dead. It looked too crunchy to eat. There were lots of crows around and I am surprised they had not spotted it.

There are lots of bridges here. Without them we could not move more than a few feet in any direction. This part of the world is mostly water. This is the Veterans bridge across the Mississippi.View from the top. What a great place to have a soap box derby (as if anyone knows what that is any more).

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Things that did not go to the Dump

Vase: This infrared bulb kept the dogs warm all last winter.

Solar powered motor: This was an attention getting moving advertisement at my local bank a while back. Turns out they put them out with the trash when they are finished with them so I ask for one. They gave me two. The picture appears blurry but that's because it is in motion and has been for two years anytime it has light. When I put the two together they try to sync up but since they have different arms that are different weights that can't so they go a little crazy. They are mesmerizing and I have watched them for hours. I am so easily entertained. I have tried to think of something more clever to do with them but so far nothing.

Lamp Shade: Found this in the trash one day when I was out riding my bike. I have this lamp that it's on that I am restoring that was in need of a shade and there it was sitting right on top of a pile of trash. It has one soiled spot at the top but I can fix that.

Knife and honing rod: The honing rod came out of someones trash many years ago. It is older than plastic but had some kind of handle that predated plastic. It crumbled into dust.

The butcher knife I bought at the 99 cent store when we had one. It had a plastic handle that crumbled away in a very short time. Although it is cheap junk from China it takes a fine edge and will hold it long enough to carve a chicken. The new handles are live oak oiled with orange oil and beeswax. No land fill for these guys.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Tom and The Radish Stalk

I'm sure you know the story of "Jack and the Bean Stalk". Well this is "Tom and the Radish Stalk". Tom Is one of my names.
This is a radish plant. I planted a single seed in the end of this pot last winter for a house plant and the rest of the pot in green onions. The onions thumbed their noses at me and died but the radish thrived. After the onions died I planted more radish seed. That's the green stuff down in the pot. It hasn't done much but the original radish is great. It has made beautiful little white flowers and is making seed which I hope to capture.

The tomatoes are coming in. Ain't they purty. I am a little disappointed in the flavor but that may just be my aging taste buds.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Yet Another Use for Old Bicycle Inner Tubes

There always seem to be plenty of unpatchable bicycle inner tubes around here but they don't get thrown out until they rot and start to come apart just hanging on a hook. I have had some of the cheap tubes do that. I don't know what will take their place if I ever go to tubeless (not likely) or solid (likely) tires.
Non-skid tips for my walking sticks and staff are the latest use.
I took a section about 8 inches long and pulled it several inches on the the stick gave it a full twist then pulled the opposite end on over itself. Then I seized it with some of my lifetime supply of marlin left over from my sailing days and folded the excess rubber down over that. It ain't pretty but it is functional and cheap.

I still call this stuff rubber but it's not. It only resembles rubber. It's useless as rubber bands for my slingshot and I have not found a practical replacement.

The lifespan of these tips is unknown but they are easily replaced.

On the left is a couple of my homemade walking sticks with commercial tips. Some call them canes and I don't know why as they are not made of cane. The light colored one is live oak and the dark one is wild black cherry so I am told.

They're gifts from the trees in my yard and were brought down in Hurricane Gustav. I use to carry a walking stick only when my ankles were acting up but I have found of late that it helps with a problem I am having with my left heel as well. Just that little bit of weight that goes onto the stick really helps.

They also double as a dog ball bat. Dog ball is a game I play with various aggressive dogs that think they would like to nip at my heels. One inning is usually sufficient.

Update on the battery adapter I reported in my May 17 post. It didn't work out. I forgot to use the KISS rule and ended up with something that popped out if I just looked at it wrong. After a while I was cross eyed from trying to stare it into working. So back to the drawing board (figure of speech I seldom plan anything). This time I kept it simple.
I placed a piece of tape on the negative end of the cell like the cell on the left in the picture below. When placed in the device it is electrically isolated. Then I just crammed the wires into the unit until they made contact and it has been working fine ever since. This is a different player than what I started with but it works the same. I am using it because it plays my SD flash cards. The other one has a radio so both get used.

Why do I go to all this trouble? Because I have these D Cells that are too depleted to use in our hurricane lamps but they will still operate these players for days. After that I use them in series to run a LED night light until they won't register anything on the voltmeter.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Old Fools Journal: I Live

Picture is taken with a cheap plastic Kodak using 110 film which is 16 mm. It is of the sunset between Lanai and Molokai and is taken by the Captain of the good ship Serenity. Poor quality picture of a magnificent event.

Kwai Chang Caine has passed to that great meditation mat in the sky. He was 72 and it appears that he departed this vail of tears by his on choice as was his right. David Carradine, who played Kwai Chang Caine in the in the early '70's in a TV series by the title “Kung Fu” will forever be “Caine” to me. When Kwai Chang Caine (David Carradine) was asked by the authorities (if my defective memory serves me) “what do you do?” he replied “I live”. That reply impressed me very much and I have used that answer for more than 35 years when ask “what do you do?”. It also gave me the resolve to “do” instead of “watch”. And I have.

As for the “kung fu” part I am not a fan of the martial arts but the core message of this series was that a nonviolent person does not have to take crap just because he is perceived as weak. There is a point where you must make it difficult to be be abused. At least that was the message I took from it.

No one will ever know what made David Carradine reject this life but it is apparent that his reasons were enough for him. Kwai Chang Caine however lives on with Davids face and the life he gave the part.

I wrote about this a little over a year ago at the end of my “Towel Day” post of May 24, 2008 and things go round and round and round.

Master Po, I am ready for another lesson.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Old Fools Journal: But I Can Reach the Pedals

I believe that it was Albert Einstein that said "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results". Our government proves that again and again in many ways, people who get married again and again prove it (especially when they do it with the same partner) and I in my small way just proved it one more time. You see I have this bicycle that I wrote about over a year ago (see here) that while in a frenzy of spring cleaning I cleaned and decided to test ride which I do with each bike I clean or repair. I had pretty much the same result as all other attempts. First I had a hell of time getting on top of that damned contraption then I immediately took off at a rate of speed faster than I can think which led to trying to negotiate a turn at a speed far above my skill level. The bike developed a high speed front end wobble the likes of which I haven't seen since I was a kid riding down the hill in front of my grandmother's house. I got out of it all right but I believe that I proved that peeing your pants will help you avoid the ditch because that's all I did besides hold on with a death grip like you have never seen. My knuckles were shining bright. If it had been night I would have lit up the street. Then a minute later I coasted confidently into my front yard only to discover (too late) that I had not thought out a dismount procedure for this devil's toy. I managed to get off with without breaking anything but there was so much flailing of limbs, scooting, sliding, pirouetting and cursing that the dogs thought I was having a fight with myself and the cats just disappeared. That high seated french booby trap is off limits to me once again.

I bought this at Goodwill for the fenders but when I found what I had I decided to put some new tires on it and ride. It is a 1973 Peugeot with full fenders, aluminum wheels, full lighting with generator and rack. It weighs 22 pounds. I don't know what kind of butt the seat was designed for but it certainly was not mine. The 30 year old Chinese seat I replaced it with is much better and I am in no way shaped like a Chinaman of 30 years ago. It reminds me of the Peugeot car I once had. Ergonomics was not a word in Peugeot's dictionary in those days. It fit no being with symmetrical limbs.

Oh well, at least it's light and easy to move out of my way. Maybe I'll make it into a hat rack.