New entry in my Kilt blog 9/21/2011

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Fresh Tomatoes End of January

These are the remainder of the tomatoes I posted about January 4th. I have eaten half again this many and some are still in the refrigerator. They are tasty. Started from saved seed in August, raised in pots in dirt from my kitchen scrap worm pile, picked green to save from 4 days of hard freezing
and ripened in the house. Now I'm no farmer and mostly these took care of themselves so I cannot brag on my farming skills and if I can do it anyone can. I dream of what I could do if I knew what I was doing but I am going to endeavor not to get carried away.

It has proven to be much more expensive to grow my own vegetables over the last 4 years than to buy even with the high prices of produce. I can grow in thrift store pots and cast off buckets in dirt from my own pile for cheap as a hobby and that's what I'm doing this year unless I get the spring growing fever again.

End of January and fresh home grown tomatoes for lunch, how good can it get?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Young Fool and the Quality Of Life

Who is this guy? I remember him He was responsible but knew nothing yet. Loved without fear, did his job, believed in honesty, loved the sunshine, wanted to know everything and was willing to work at it. He was also, in the vernacular of the common folk, "hornier than a two peckered billy goat". He recently signed a contract to defend his country and its constitution with his life. I think he would have liked me. I know I like him. He doesn't know what joy's and heartbreaks the future holds but is ever optimistic. I don't remember hair that color and those teeth you see disappeared 30 years ago. Young Fool.

Rich? I sure am, however I count rich by the quality of life and not the dollar amount. I recently found a website that puts me in the top 12% of the richest in the world according to my income. It must be so because I have more than I need. I have acquaintances that often do not have so much as a dime in their pocket. I have even had beggars come by the house. It is apparent to them that we are rich because we have plenty. We have that through conservation, not wasting anything and a fairly simplified life. This is in the United States of America land of the free and home of the brave. Most of my neighbors are not worried about the TSA at the airport because they don't have gas money to even get there and they don't have to worry about foreign travel because they couldn't in their lifetime come up with enough money to buy a passport. This is not poverty because they all have electricity, water, food, cigarettes, beer and various other kinds of dope. They have some kind of TV and cable or Satellite. Some laugh, play and enjoy their children although I seldom see that. I know more than I want that can not read, many more that will never read a book and more than a few that collect some kind of disability check (mental disability}. That's just in my area but I suspect that it is about the same where the poor people live.

I recently gave up some of the precious minutes of the remainder my life to watch TV which reduced the quality of my life considerably but only momentarily. Actually I was a captive audience but there I was. I paid special attention to the commercials and here are a few things I noticed.

1. Approximately every other commercial was for an automobile. Not just any automobile but high powered very expensive automobiles doing irresponsible driving demonstrations. The kind of car you go into dept for many years to have and pay for it three times over in interest. The kind that appeals to the immature. In the 1920's Ford sold a car for as low as $260 and paid workers $5.00 a day. At that cost to pay ratio the automobile was affordable to the workers. A car cost 52 days of your life if you worked everyday. The Ads I saw appeared to be aimed at the employed young and stupid. It appears that auto dealers are frantically advertising more and more these days meanwhile I see late model cars alongside the road with for sale signs. As Mr Natural would say " What does it all mean"?

2. The only commercials aimed at older people (we the elderly) had to do with life insurance, burial expenses and getting you to sign your Medicare over so they could "take care of you". These insurance ads were heavily pushing guilt as a means to an end. Oh yeah, there were ads for cheap dentures.

3. Commercials aimed at the young seemed to be for video games, video entertainment and $3000 HD TV sets.

4. There seem to be a lot of commercials by pharmaceutical companies that spent more time telling about the side affects I don't want than telling about the conditions it will supposedly relieve. Most sound like a cure looking for a problem.

I did not see one commercial about anything that would improve anyones life except for maybe the seller. All were lies either implied or actual. Since I don't spend a great deal of time in front of the TV I am not really the target but I thought over the influence of commercials on me. I can only think of one commercial that caused me to check into it in the last 10 years. It was about some telephone gadget that was supposed to save me a ton of money but it turned out to be a lie. I saved my money by not spending it.

These commercials were all embedded in entertainment shows where there was a least one murder in gory detail, a cadaver, usually rotting and full of maggots, and a smart police officer or two solving the case. I know the last item never happens. There were many instances of the police abusing their position (it appeared to be condoned) and lawyers looking for justice which in the real world is nonexistent. All lawyers want is to win at any cost as do politicians. Justice depends on how much you can pay.

I do not believe I am being cynical but am being rather realistic. There is a lot of beauty and good in the world but it isn't coming out of the TV.

I can't throw out my TV because it belongs to SWMBO (she who must be obeyed) but I think I'll continue to limit my viewing of it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Fishing

1959 aboard the USS Mansfield DD728. This was one hell of a fishing trip. Believe it or not there were those who trolled a line when we were slow enough. This is about as slow as you go in company with a carrier. I don't remember the names of the ships in the background but the one to the right of the carrier is fueling the carrier and the destroyer to the right. Difficult to see but those three ships are connected with fuel lines. It is a very hazardous operation but necessary. I will expand on this when I can get my head around it in a later post about an "unfortunate incident". I get a little emotional about it even after 50 years.
This is somewhere in the Western Pacific.

When I go fish it is to get fish to eat. I can't say I really enjoy the process except for being outside by or on the water and with those I care for. From an economic standpoint it is a dead loss. I can buy fish for three dollars (USD) a pound from a local man that fishes nearly everyday. It has not yet been frozen, it is cleaned and cut into the size I would cut it and it is perfect. Three dollars will not cover the gas alone to go fishing. The last time we went fishing we brought home no fish so the cost per pound was very high. I guess that's why there are commercial fishermen.

For three dollars and sixty cents (USD) a pound I can go to my favorite Chinese joint and get it breaded and deep fried and it is delicious.

I ran errands today and I am happy to say that it was successful. Mostly when I run errands it is frustrating but today I found everything on my list except fabric for my monks robe.

Now I can do the left side loader on my cargo bike, finish my eyeball art project and go for a bike ride.

Oh yeah, and work on these post which I find somehow physiologically rewarding. I love the comments. It is nice to know that I am not alone in this universe.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Old Fools Journal: What's In A Name

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

is an evil spirit lurking in the universe that thinks up bad names and constantly pushes to have them hung on indefensible children. I have reminded friends over the years to be careful the name you hang on your kid.

My name is Richard and being the first male child born to the children of my grandparents John Richard and Sarah, that was the tradition. Their first male child born was named Richard but he was lucky and died before two years old. Their first child to have a male was my father who, of course was not Richard but his kid was and that would be me. Not the flashest of names but it is an honorable one that is hard to make fun of. My mother fixed that, she called me Dickie. I was very young at the time and unable to defend myself. That led to wearing the nickname "Dick" for most of my life. In my younger days that was no problem as it was not yet a derisive word becoming an alternate name for a penis for the unschooled. In those days that dubious honor was reserved for "Peter". It was not yet a negative description for someone who sticks it to you. Also people like Dick Nixon and Dick Cheney had not worked their magic yet sullying the name forever.

It really didn't become a problem for me until I moved to Mexico in the mid 1980's. It soon became apparent that "Dick" was a difficult word for the Spanish speakers to get around. The very best turned it into Deek. I quickly started using my real name "Richard" and since the Spanish equivalent is Ricardo it was an instant success and I became "Don Ricardo". When I came back to the USA in 1991 I continued to introduce myself as Richard and the worst problem I had was when someone would insist on calling me Rick or Ricky. Neither is my name.

After a few years I changed jobs which caused a shift in the people I associated with. About that time I had a brain fart and decided to start using "Dick" again (I know what you're thinking. See how easy it is to turn it into a joke?). What a mistake. In a ten year period it had become something you call someone or the name of that dreaded male appendage that turns Americans to stone if they happen to see one. It has been so bad that on a few occasions some would blush when I introduced myself. I have met many of both sexes that just cannot use the word as a name for fear I'll be offended. I'm sure that's because they only use "dick" offensively or in a joke. My grandson recently told a young friend that it is my name and that boy could not believe it being unaware that it was a name like Rick, Nick or Slick. No one thinks twice about using Peter, John, Concha or squaw as names or description but Dick is out (pun intended).

Needless to say even though it was my name for most of my very fortunate life I have forgone using it. I answer to it but no longer include it in any introduction or on any paperwork. My official name is Richard Thomas Herrington or so it says on my drivers license and DD214 but according to my baby book so carefully preserved by my mother and later by my sister it is Richard Thomas Swaim , the names of my grandfathers and my fathers last name. I knew myself as that until I was 12 or so and moved to a foreign land (Texas) to start life over. My biological father was born there so I guess it was like returning to the old country. I didn't stay long.

Herrington is my stepfathers name and I am proud to wear it as there has never been a finer man but that is not who I am. SWMBO (she who must be obeyed) says it is because I've gone by it for so long but I say that until you accept a new name in your own heart then it is not your name. In my heart I have never accepted it as mine.

I have over the years considered going to the trouble of changing it and subsequently changing my birth certificate to reflect who I really am. The birth certificate on file is useless to anyone trying to follow a family line as I have not a drop of Herrington blood in me. I could not bring myself to even discuss it with my stepfather for fear that it might offend him. I think it would not because he was a bigger man than that but I just couldn't take the chance. Now I'm just too lazy.

I am not the last Richard in my line as my sister's son is the last Richard. His name is not Swaim of course so I am the last Richard Swaim in this family line so far. You see I have a brother that I only just discovered and he has children. I don't know the status of his children or their children.

There are plenty more Richard Swaim's out there. If you think you are unique just Google your name.

Richard \r(i)-cha-rd\ is pronounced RICH-erd. It is of Old German origin, and its meaning is "powerful leader". Norman name commonly used for the last 900 years except in the 19th century. England's King Richard Coeur de Lion gave the name lasting impressions of kingliness and the exploits of a crusading knight. Ricardo is a popular Spanish and Portuguese form; Riccardo is Italian; Rikard is Scandinavian. English kings Richard I-III; rock celebrity Little Richard; composer Richard Rodgers; actors Richard Burton, Richard Kiley, Richard Gere, Richard Chamberlain; photographer Richard Avedon.

Thomas \th(o)-mas\ is pronounced TAH-mas. It is of Aramaic origin, and its meaning is "twin". Biblical: one of the 12 apostles known as "doubting Thomas" as he has an unusual mixture of pessimism and zealous faith. Some say his full name was Judas Thomas (Judas the Twin), and the nickname distinguished him from Judas Iscariot. The name has been popular since the 12th-century martyr Thomas à Becket. Other saints include Thomas Aquinas and Thomas More. Tomás (toh-MAHS) is a Spanish form. President Thomas Jefferson; inventor Thomas Edison;

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Old Fools Journal: New Project or Burning Steel

Look what I found for an American dollar from the egg man. I know it doesn't look like much but to me it is a new forge. I do miss my old forge I abandoned in Mexico. I miss being able to heat steel to red hot and hammering it into the shapes I want. That is going to change.

This is a brake rotor off some kind of fire breathing belch fire 8 pickup truck. With the addition of some fire clay and a few assorted parts it will become a forge. But that will be easy compared to finding hard coal (Anthracite) locally. I love playing blacksmith.

More to come on this as soon as I get some more parts. One can't rush these things.

I love my side loader. Why haven't I done this before. After I hauled this home I added a sidebag above the loader. It use to be an over priced Calvin Klein duffel of some kind. I found it at the thrift store.
Never mind worrying about the zip ties. These are probably plenty good enough but I'm fresh out of industrial grade ties. I could use wire or even marlin twine both of which I have but I'm going for easy here at least until I find out what works. I thought Calvin Klein did underwear. Oh well this is my first Calvin Klein so what do I know.
I like it that the bottom of the bag is supported. I was going to trim the bars on the side loader but maybe not.

I'm really thinking about doing a similar job on the other side but I'll never find another Calvin Klein bag. Maybe a folding box or a sling bag of some kind.

Well boys and girls I've had a long fun day in the sand box. Besides the bike shop I sorted and corrected about 100 fifty year old photos today. There are some good stories in those photos, all of which I took, and I'm dieing to tell them.

Right now I'm full of fried catfish and potatoes so I think I'll relax with a glass of wine and other drugs before bed.
Life is good.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Old Fools Journal: The Boy Mechanic Revisited

I love these line drawings.

I have been perusing an online copy of "The Boy Mechanic " vol 1 again and ran across this explanation of how to make a working steam engine from what you have on hand. It reminded me of my early adventures in making "things". What I had as a boy was wood, baling wire, fence wire, tin cans, bottles, jars , nails, matches, killer fire crackers, sticks and rocks. It was not much to work with but I managed to make a couple of coaster cars with rope steering and hand drag brake that worked, just not very well. I only had three wheels so I never got to make a 4 wheel car. I used giant nails for axles fixed to boards with other bent over nails. A couple of trips down our short little hill was about all it would take without major rebuild. Very unsatisfactory.

In the late 1940's, for me, there was no "stuff" just laying around. Things I take for granted now, such as brass and steel rod, bar stock, pieces of sheet metal, drawers of assorted machine screws and bolts and tubing just did not exist. There wasn't anything to salvage because stuff didn't break or it got fixed or it was to valuable to throw away even if it didn't work. One Christmas I asked for a 25 foot length of rope as there was just nothing but short pieces laying around. When I started making crystal radios I saved my money and purchased a 100 foot length of stranded copper wire from in town to make an aerial. If I wanted a sling shot I made it from a piece of tree (available) and an inner tube (available real rubber), fabric or leather (for pouch) and string (cotton, available). There were tools of every kind so I was not deprived. I made a lot of stuff but I was scarred for life by only having three wheels. Now I have a lot of wheels. I am obsessed with wheels. I may never use them for anything but it's comforting having them. One day I'll mount them all on the side of my shed so I can just look at them. All connected, of course, so if you turn one you turn them all.

Below is one of the many things I am going to make someday. Just 'cause. There are many things in this 97 year old book I want to make.

How to Make a Toy Steam Engine [73]

A toy engine can be easily made from old implements which can be found in nearly
every house.
The cylinder A, Fig. 1, is an old bicycle pump, cut in half. The steam chest D, is part
of the piston tube of the same pump, the other parts being used for the bearing B, and
the crank bearing C. The flywheel Q can be any small-sized iron wheel; either an old
sewing-machine wheel, pulley wheel, or anything available. We used a wheel from an
old high chair for our engine. If the bore in the wheel is too large for the shaft, it may be
bushed with a piece of hard wood. The shaft is made of heavy steel wire, the size of the
hole in the bearing B.
The base is made of wood, and has two wood blocks, H and K, 3/8 in. thick,
to support bearing B, and valve crank S, which is made of tin. The hose E connects to
the boiler, which will be described later. The clips FF are soldered to the cylinder and
nailed to the base, and the bearing B is fastened by staples. The valve motion is shown in Figs. 2 and 3. In Fig. 2 the steam is entering the
cylinder, and in Fig. 3 the valve B has closed the steam inlet and opened the exhaust,
thus allowing the steam in the cylinder to escape.
The piston is made of a stove bolt, E, Fig. 2, with two washers, FF, and a cylindrical
piece of hard wood, G. This is wound with soft string, as shown in Fig. 3, and saturated
with thick oil. A slot is cut in the end of the bolt E, to receive the connecting rod H. The
valve B is made of an old bicycle spoke, C, with the nut cut in half and filed down as
shown, the space between the two halves being filled with string and oiled.
The valve crank S, Fig. 1, is cut out of tin, or galvanized iron, and is moved
by a small crank on the shaft. This crank should be at right angles to the main crank.
The boiler, Fig. 4, can be an old oil can, powder can, or a syrup can with a tube
soldered to it, and is connected to the engine by a piece of rubber tubing. The heat from
a small gas stove will furnish steam fast enough to run the engine at high speed. This
engine was built by W. G. Schuh and A. J. Eustice, of Cuba, Wis.

Notice that there are no disclaimers in this set of instructions. It is assumed that if you can read it then you know that fire burns, steam is hot, boilers can blow up, saws will cut skin as well as other things, that if you jab a screwdriver in your eye you will likely go blind and that a hot poker jabbed up your butt will hurt. It is assumed that you don't need a lawyer to tell you that. In third world countries that is still assumed. My example is that when living in Mexico I could buy an Evinrude outboard motor without any safety features. I could not buy that same motor in the USA. That motor was made in Canada for third world countries. I had the opportunity to compare what was good enough for the poor savages and the new improved model for the non-thinking dullards from more advance countries. The motor made for the Mexicans was much simpler which meant it could be started, run and repaired. It was also much less expensive. When the motor made for us more civilized denizens of the world balked at starting you never knew if it was the motor or one of the things that was protecting you. I stripped all of the unnecessary stuff off my American made motor.

Once I bought a propane water heater there that had a big placard with lighting instructions. It explained in detail how you were supposed to hold this lever, turn that valve, press a button and how to hold your mouth just right. Of course it didn't have any of that. To light it you turned a valve, struck a match, pushed a button. It would light instantly (burner and pilot) with a great roar and after about 15 seconds you release the button. If it stayed lit you were good to go. If you pushed the button then watched a little TV or had a beer before lighting you would burn all the hair off your arm and maybe your eyebrows. Everybody there had these and no one blew up their house that I know of. Everybody lost a little arm hair.

Below in the fine print is where you can get this wonderful book if you are so inclined.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Old Fools Journal: I'm Probably Wrong and So Are You

It has come my attention lately that how a person does something and especially if that person has done that "something" in a certain way for while, that person seems to come to think that their way is the best way. It doesn't seem to apply only to older adults either but strikes at all ages. This was brought home to me a few months ago when I learned to peel a banana in a different way from a monkey. Had I peeled the banana for the monkey I would have started at the stem end and if the skin was a little tough I would have used a knife to make a little slit so I could peel it from the stem down marveling at how superior I was to the monkey because I used tools. Silly me. The monkey simply took the banana turn it up to the end opposite the stem squeezed and pulled the skin apart. No muss no fuss. Had I paid attention to the cartoonist's renditions of the banana peel on the sidewalk I would have known that. I have long thought that monkeys are the superior primate and this just confirmed it. At least for me. Not to mention that they seem to be happier than humans.

I don't feel so superior.

I have in my life been shown how to do things in some of the most complicated, convoluted ways and rather than work out a better way just worked hard to learn "how it was done". I am happy to say that not everything I have learned the "correct way to do" I accepted without question but there is enough that I now question all of my old habits and methods.

Many years ago a pilot endeavored to show how I was doing something wrong and that his way was the correct way. This particular man was one of the most FU individuals I have ever met. His method had so many steps and requirements even he couldn't do it the same way twice. This was a man who had many interests but after that demonstration and after watching him make one of the worst approaches and landings I have ever seen then exclaim that the auto-pilot would never be as good as a live pilot (such as him) I realized he had no interest in self examination. I have never seen an auto-pilot that did a worst job than him. I can't even remember his name now probably because since that event I have thought of him as "nervous and jerky". So "nervous and jerky" wherever you are, thanks for the lesson.

The best teacher I ever had would tell me the results that were expected and where to start then a demonstration of how he did it. I was expected to then work it out. His demonstration of how he did it was rarely the best way and now I know that was on purpose. Imagine how smug I felt the first time I found a better way to do it than him and then how small I felt when I found that was the way he really did it.

Things I thought I knew but was shown a better way and had to change last year:
How to fold a T-shirt. My old way really sucked compared to this.
How to season chili so that it is consistently good like SWMB0's. (she who must be obeyed)
That pants aren't always the best choice but then neither is anything else so think before dressing.
A more efficient way of removing and replacing a bike tire and tube.
After trying for many years to always use finesse instead of brute force finding that brute force is sometimes not only the best way but is the only way.

This is by no means a complete list it's just changes to a few things I have been doing the same way for a very long time. I am quite sure that I will find something else to question before the day is out.

Well here it is: Before I could finish this post I found that I need to change where I set a wine glass. I know that if you set a wine glass over or around your keyboard you will eventually pour it into your keyboard.
I now have a keyboard that I know will hold a measured four ounces of Cabernet Sauvignon.
That you will never spill a partial glass it has to be full.
That you can't really drink very well from a wine filled keyboard.
That the keyboard is useless for anything but holding wine now.

Note to self: Cover keyboard.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Cargo Bike Update #3 I think

The temperature climbed into the 40's this week so I took the long bike to the local market for another trial run. This time I rigged an additional basket and really loaded it up. It was too much for the bracket that the center stand was attached to. The center stand held up alright but that flimsy little piece of mild steel did not. I fixed it and worked off some frustration as well.
I took my BA hammer (bigasshammer) and beat it into submission first, then used this kickstand part I took off a 1980's something Sears and Roebuck Free Spirit. The bike stands up proud again.
This growth on the side of the bike is my version of a side loader. It is not an original idea but I am sorry to say I don't know where I got the idea. I saw it online somewhere and I have searched diligently but cannot find it. If anyone should happen to know who posted this please let me know so I can give credit. I'm not smart enough to think this up.

It is a folding wall hanger for a bicycle and cost $6.02 USD plus tax license and dealer prep in Lowe's hardware. I attached it to the frame with various pieces of hardware from my junk box.
When it swings down it makes a place to put stuff.
Such as a propane tank.
It does throw the bike off balance a bit. This is a full tank and the bike needs the aid of one of my rustic homemade crooked walking sticks to keep it from falling over like a dead bug. As soon as I started riding I hardly noticed it was there.So now I guess I can't sell or give away this walking stick. I made so many of these Hurricane Gustave live oak walking sticks I thought I might sell them on ETSY but I keep finding uses for them. Oh well this one is no longer a walking stick. It is now a auxiliary cargo bike stand. It will come in handy for bashing yappers that like to nip at my heels as well.

Things I don't like: It has to be down to use the basket. When the basket is in use the side loader pretty much can't be used.

This is by no means finished but is more a proof of concept. I will probably change it to the other side so that it falls toward me instead of away when loading or coming off the kickstand. I mount from the left side, an old habit from riding horses plus that's where the kickstand is on a regular bike.

I think maybe I'm going to tear the rack area down and start over. I can do better. Besides my grandson gave me a used up skateboard. I still have the front rack to go as well. What fun. Details to follow.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Staying Put

Oh how I envy those who are in the place they want to be and know it as the place they are supposed to be. -tom swaim

The adventure of "staying put" is new to me. At least if the last 17 years is new, 15 of which was full of travel. After living in that temporary dwelling for 8 years it became a fixed place that I had lived in longer than any place before, except for my boat, and it was not fixed. The travel was long ranging first by truck then by air with enough adrenaline thrown in to keep an old adrenaline junkie going. It also fooled me into thinking I was still temporary. What is testing me now is reading the post of all the younger people (and some not so younger, you know who you are) who are questioning the status quo and starting to take the "road less traveled by*". I am having a hard time realizing that I have already taken the "road less traveled by" several times and that now the "road less traveled by " is "staying put". Perhaps "staying put" is not a road but it is certainly less traveled for me.

The problem with staying put is finding a place you like. For me it has been finding a place I dislike less than others then adjusting my thinking (justifying) my choice. By the time you discover that where you are is not paradise and that you have many places in your past that were more like your idea of paradise it's too late. The piles of stuff such as plants, stray dogs, grand kids and a fondness for immobile living things (trees, gardenias, worm pile, etc) become an anchor embedded in the mud that you love more than you dislike. The anchor chain becomes a chain of velvet that you no longer fight and resentment of it dwindles to a dim memory.

So not knowing what to do you set about trying to change some of the things you don't like only to discover you are changing yourself and not your surroundings. Thus the adventure begins.

My thanks to Northmark for the phrase "staying put" and it being an adventure.

*The Road Not Taken -Robert Frost

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Naked Candle Making

Here on the homestead today the temperature topped out about 36 degrees F (28*C) so you know I didn't spend a great deal of time outdoors. In fact my longest trip was a 30 foot (9m) round trip walk to the mailbox. The kilt was not the best choice of outdoor wear. It's been a long time since I've had goose bumps on my butt like that.
It was a good day to find an indoor project that involved heat. Above you see my "Laboratory" for making candles but today it will be the rebuilding of candles. This is also where I do my cloning, re-awakening of the dead and food preparation.

The tools today are for candle making. The blue thing in the upper left hand corner is a coffee cup warmer given me by my dear friend Missy about 8 years ago. It is handy. It's good for warming up a dead brain by keeping the coffee warm and it melts that "pot pie" tin of left over old candle pieces. It's just warm enough to keep paraffin flowing without getting anywhere near the flash point. The paraffin is just liquid so I can pick up the tin with my bare hands.

The candle to the right is at an end and was poured into the tin right after the pic was taken. The next one is just finished and is made of old candle pieces. It is burning nicely while I write this. The next one is a refurbish that is not working out that well so will probably be melted down at the next session. There is candle wick yarn from the thrift store, 100 foot for 35 cents American. Then there are the tools, an old cheese knife, bamboo chopsticks, wooden toothpick, bamboo skewer, wooden clothespin, straightened paperclip and scissors. The paper plate is optional but makes clean up much easier. The bamboo chopsticks and skewer are acquired at the Asian grocery and are essential tools in any kitchen, galley or laboratory. The clothes pin came from China but it is destined for the firepit. The Chinese just do not have the hang of clothespins yet. The shape is fine, the spring is fine, the wood is fine but it just doesn't work. It flies apart at the slightest provocation. I'm looking for another source. I use a lot of wooden clothes pins for everything but hanging clothes.
Candles satisfy some primeval need I have for an open fire. It seems I especially need it in winter. I think I am not far removed from the cave.
Raw material. 5.5 pounds (2.5k) paraffin. It was free so I might as well make candles of it. When that's used up I want to try some beeswax. I think beeswax is the bee version of earwax. Hmm earwax candles. Nah.

More bicycle innertubes
I finished wrapping my outdoor faucets with bicycle inner-tubes. I used up all the bubble wrap that stuff came wrapped in this year. I wouldn't go buy the stuff but I hate to just throw stuff away without getting at least one more ride. I left the stem on for a statement.

PS:The new candle wick fell over against the side of the glass and with a loud pop sent a chunk of the glass about 4 feet on to the carpet and commenced to melt its way toward the center of the earth. I'm sure glad it didn't land in my lap.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Ms. Anole, Ann for short

My friend was back this morning patrolling the back of my desk looking for something live to eat I think. When she got around to the front of the monitor she spotted the cursor (center top of photo) and went for it. After about five tries she realized she was not going to get it and just stood there in frustration watching. I offered some of my oat cereal but I think she wants live meat. Barbarian. Reminds me of some ladies I have known.

Green anoles, sometimes called the American Chameleon are not always green and are not true chameleons. So why are they called either one? They can change color from brown to emerald green.

SWMBO and I call anything that looks like this a "Gecko" even though we know it's not. When I'm cleaning up lizard crap, and they do crap, I call them fucking lizards.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Old Fools Journal: What You Can Do When You Don't Know Any better.

Back in the 1970's when I was living on the good ship "Serenity" in the Lahaina, Maui road stead we had all sorts of unusual things happen. This amphibian came in one afternoon and decided to stay the night. Very colorful. It was looking good when I went to bed and the sea was calm so I expected it to still be there in the morning. When I arose to put water in the ocean just after daylight it was gone. I knew it didn't fly out at night so I jumped in my dinghy and went over where it had been and sure enough it was still there firmly attached to the mooring, upside down on the bottom. Must have had a leak I thought. My second thought was that it was going to be really hard to start.

The water is only about 30 feet deep there and very clear. It was recovered that day and it was flying the last I saw of it dangling under a really big helicopter. It was recovered by a bunch of local divers and tourist boat people.

It was not a good day for the pilotThis is the Yacht "Lia" formerly a 400 ton Japanese fishing trawler. Apparently it went on a reef somewhere and was rescued by a friend of mine. I don't really remember the story. We'll just call him Al. Al is one of the most interesting people I have known and I considered him a really good friend. I last saw Al in 1984. Al had plans for this little ship but it needed a little work first which involved moving it to Honolulu. He didn't have any confidence in his ability to skipper the vessel so he ask me if I would. Of course I would. I was after all a steely eyed, square jawed airline pilot and could do anything. Or so he thought (I guess) but I was not so sure. I had never found a boat I couldn't handle or an airplane I couldn't fly but I was getting to the age where I was wondering if maybe there wasn't a lot of good luck involved in that. Self doubt was beating up on my ego.

The night of the departure came and Al's lovely wife came in the dinghy to pick me up and off we went. The crew was made up of a handful of harbor rats from Lahaina harbor, a oilman in engineering, the owner and his wife, myself as Captain and my faithful girl sidekick Genie as helmsman. Why on earth I thought that would work I'll never know.

It did work. The engineer had messed with that inline 8 cylinder diesel until he knew it forward and backward and that was a good thing. There is no transmission on this vessel, only a clutch, so to get into reverse one has to shut the engine down and restart it in the opposite direction. There is also no electric starter but a air starter instead so there is a limited number of starts before you have to let the air pressure built up again. There is no steering unless the propeller is pushing or pulling water past the rudder. That means you can't just coast and steer. The prop has to be turning. Without power the ship keeps going in the direction it was going only it turns sideways. Very disconcerting.

None of that was any concern at the beginning of the passage as we had the entire anchorage to get our act together. Honolulu harbor would be a "whole nother thang". I had found out that there would probably not be line handlers on the dock in Honolulu and we would have to put off our own. Oh my.

Well the engineer and I put our heads together and rehearsed getting into reverse and back into forward until we were sure we understood each other. He thought we might have 5 restarts. This was going to be tricky and I couldn't touch anything. My only connection to the ship was the soles of my flip flops and a sound powered telephone between the engineer and myself. The helmsman (my faithful girl sidekick a person of Norwegian descent) had the wheel and some Texan had the throttle. They were both magnificent.

A commercial ship entering Honolulu harbor must have a harbor pilot on board and I believe a tug had to be standing by. The "Lia" is a yacht. I'll bet that loop hole has been closed by now but who knows.

The overnight trip was pretty much uneventful and I even got about 4 hours sleep being awaken only once because the lookouts thought we were going to go aground. We were in the middle of the Molokai channel with Molokai on our starboard side so I had to get up and explain that what they were seeing was not a city but the inter island tug towing two barges probably delivering toilet paper to Maui, or maybe more beer.

The engine topped out at about 600 rpm, I seem to remember, and we were running along at 270 rpm making good about 5 knots according to my calculations.

I have lost the log book that my notes were in so this is as I remember it.

We arrive in the morning between seven and nine, I believe, and the adrenaline started. It wasn't like I would have any monetary loss if I screwed up but the embarrassment would kill me. It seemed like forever getting through the entrance to the harbor but once inside it was show time and no time to hesitate or be nervous. It went off as we rehearsed it. Our first shutdown-reverse-shutdown-startup-forward was to slow the vessel to minimum. We came in at a very shallow angle to the dock and the second shutdown-reverse-shutdown-startup-forward was with the bow withing inches of the dock. Apparently the line handlers got off OK as suddenly there were people running around and passing lines. The third shutdown-reverse-shutdown-startup-forward was to get the ship moving aft and then swing the stern in toward the dock. It all came off perfect and we looked like professionals. A bunch of drunks and harbor rats. Imagine

I had an adrenaline headache for days which I treated with gin.

I have handled a lot of different boat competently and a lot of different airplanes as well but landing on the moon would not have given me a bigger rush than this. I still get a rush just remembering it and it was the crew that caused it to be so.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Old Fools Journal: I Been One upped

I knew that making guitar picks from credit cards was not original but I didn't know that there was a machine for it. Now that's progress.
It's a good way to reduce credit card debt. Something I haven't had in over 40 years.

While perusing my copy of "The Boy Mechanic" This morning I ran across this item. I love that book if only for the sketches. I don't know how many showers I've taken using just such a device as this but I'm sure it numbers in the thousands. The first one I made around 1970 and I thought it was an original idea. It was for me but this "The Boy Mechanic vol 1" is copyright 1913. That predates me by a few years. In the early '70's I spent a lot of time living outdoors in campers and trailers. My showers were similar to the one above and water was heated by a variety of solar heaters I devised. Some worked well and some did not. I did come away from that experiment knowing that a couple of hundred feet of cheap green garden hose will give plenty of hot water in a very short time in the sun. Much faster that just setting a bucket out.

We are having some very cool weather for this far south and in fact expecting a freeze every night the rest of the week so I guess my fall garden is done for. Oh well I guess I shouldn't complain
as I have already had 3 or 4 really nice tomatoes this winter from seed that was started in August. The seed was save from a tomato I bought at the farmers market and grown in dirt that my worms made from kitchen scraps and leaves. They were grown in discarded buckets. The one I had yesterday was so good it didn't even need salt.

There are still lots of tomatoes on the plants but they are so immature that they will never get ripe. I may try pickling some of these. This cold weather has slowed everything down to a crawl. I hope next year to have a crude cobbled together green house.

Some of these will get ripe indoors and some will be eaten green. My lunch today is going to be fried green tomatoes and onions with left over corned beef. Yum, tomatoes grown in worm shit.
This guy has been keeping me company all morning sitting on my computer speaker. I say "guy" but it could be a girl. It seems intelligent so it is probably a girl. All she wants is some bugs to eat and here in southeast Louisiana there is plenty of that even in the winter. Her skinny sister is living in the galley and has been for a month.

She studied me this morning for about an hour and I think she was trying to determine what the dumbass is doing.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Old Fools Journal: More Uses for Bike Innertubes

Yet another use for bicycle inner tubes. When I acquired this old Greyhound Bus in 1979 all the rubber gaskets around the doors and window were still in pretty good shape. There is no way to know how many times they had been replaced but in the prior 28 years I would guess several times. Maybe not for the windows but for the passenger door for sure. That is a high wear area. The old bus was built in an era of craftsmanship and responsible manufacturing of things that could be fixed. Any idiot with a screwdriver can replace the door gasket on this bus. I had to replace the door gasket back in the 90's and that's when I found out that replacing it is easy but finding a new one is difficult. Of course they don't make the special fitted one that all you have to do is remove and replace a couple of dozen screws so the search was on. I found some rubber gasket material that was about a ⅝inch tube with a 1 inch lip for attaching. Perfect, easy, simple and cheap. That completely wore out about 2 years ago and I have not been able to find anything like it.

In the pictures the vertical black thing on the door edge is the inner tube. Nevermind the stuff on the right side of the pictures as that is my work apron with the sissors and slingshot hanging just inside the door.

This was a quick and dirty job and no effort was made to be brilliant or artistic. It is cold and nasty and I just needed to plug that hole with something that works. It ain't purty but it works.

So what to do with the left over valve stem.

A while back when I had some work done on my 23 year old jalopy the shop that did the work broke the overflow tube on the radiator. Radiators these days are made of plastic and that little tube that sticks out just below the radiator cap that the overflow hose is connected to is a little delicate. I know it was an accident and the mechanic probably was not even aware of it happening. The shop is a good, honest shop that gives me good service at a reasonable price and since the radiator is nearly new I saw no reason to bother them about it.

A little plumbers strap, some high temp silicone and a bicycle valve stem and it's good as new. It will also give me something to talk about when I'm in the shop next .

The little tube with the small hose attached just below the filler is the valve stem.
Left over raw material with plenty more where that came from. I wonder if I could make a kilt out of inner tubes. I've laced a chair seat, made gaskets and washers, made rubber bands, used them as bungees, wrapped handlebars and I've used one for a belt. Great for binding a glue joint until it dries. I find so many uses for them that I don't know what I'll do if I can ever afford to get some solid flat proof tires.

My knuckles have thawed as you can tell because I'm typing but It's nearly noon, the wind is blowing out of the north and it has not reached 50 degrees F. Too cold for my hands to work with tools so I think I'll go for a bike ride. That's about the only thing I can do with gloves on besides pee my pants.