New entry in my Kilt blog 9/21/2011

Showing newest 14 of 15 posts from March 2010. Show older posts
Showing newest 14 of 15 posts from March 2010. Show older posts

Monday, March 29, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Another Skill Born Out Of Necessity

Yellow 6 inch rule for scale

If you don't know what this instrument of torture is then count yourself among the fortunate. If you do know what it is then you know what I did today.

I learned many years ago that if you have a plumbing, air conditioning or electrical problem then you better have a lot of money to pay for the service, have time to wait the two weeks on the waiting list or do it yourself. I started doing it myself and sort of keeping track of an imaginary hourly cost kept somewhat under the going rates at the time whatever they may be. I've never really gotten a straight answer to the question of "how much is it". I guess it's a secret around here until you get the bill. Never mind that. I have the tools, patience and can still sort of bend into the contortions required for this work. I just do it slower, say "goddammit" a lot and require a nap afterward. I also make several hundred trips to the shed for a tool until I have the entire tool box at hand.

At $40.00 an hour I made about $120.00 today. I used a gallon of gasoline going for the part but I combined the trip with a visit with those beautiful ladies that are at the motel with the enclosed pool and video games they are pretending is a " SPA" so I can't really count it.

The old faucet leaked under the sink. It is a strange leak occurring in the body of the faucet after the valve itself. It is a well made name brand and all non-ferrous metal. I have taken it apart but I still can't find the weak spot. Oh well I now have some nice little copper and brass pieces for future art fun.
We now have a bathroom faucet that makes sense. I love its simple lines and it is totally functional. I believe water will be flowing through it long after I've gone to the great do-it-yourself hardware store in the sky.
I installed this one a few months ago with a retro style that I liked the lines of and find very practical. Like the one in the bathroom you can wash your hair in the sink, fill a water bucket or wash out the pressure pot. Both of these fixtures that I replaced were more than 20 years old so finding parts to repair them was out of the question.

The tool at the top is called a basin wrench I believe. Parts are much easier to replace now than they were when I bought that wrench which was in the 1970's I think but I don't really remember. Most everything can be done by hand now or with pliers and a better wrench as been developed that is much easier to use. This one is a bitch. That curve in the sliding lever at the right end didn't get that way just laying around.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Old Fools Journal: No Services Here

I don't believe there are services being held here anymore except for the folks underground in the graveyard on the left side in the distance. Someone is keeping the brush down but I found no signs of maintenance around the graves.
There is something peaceful about a graveyard in the sunlight. It seems like it's more about life than death. It was full of birds and the buzzing of insects and it was alive.
I really wanted to go inside and inspect the type of construction as I believe this was built with hand tools only. It appears to be post and beam construction. I didn't refrain from entering because of the predictions of many that the walls would fall down if I entered a church. I didn't enter because this thing is being held up by spiderwebs. It's not safe standing beside it. If it's still standing when I pass that way again and there is good light I may approach a little closer and get some pictures through the holes in the walls.
The reason for this expensive road trip off into the wild and woolly world of barbaric highway travel, risking my life dodging 4000 pound weapons of war, after purposely plunging at headlong speed then passing within inches going in opposite directions, was to fetch these two little darlings. 11 and 12 years old and going on 20 they are singing with the radio and not missing a word of some undecipherable lyrics and non melodic songs. I never thought that being hard of hearing would be a blessing. I did enjoy the sound of their voices and the looks of happiness and joy however. Being around them causes me to get down right euphoric. Better than any drug I have ever used I'm surprised it's not illegal. I know it is frowned upon and considered sinful by some religions. Now I have my own "bicycle chics" for a few days.
Terrible pictures I know but I had my camera set wrong. It's what I got and I'm not throwing them out.
I only saw three wrecks in this little adventure. One complete with helicopter, fire trucks and bodies on the ground and two that just ran off into the bayou. I saw many yellow lights run and three completely red lights (meaning yellow was a distant memory) run at speed. When you have a green light here it means look both ways before proceeding.
OK enough blathering on about how good these bringers of joy make me feel there is stuff to be done outside.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Maintenance

I can't believe it's time to do this again. As I was riding home from the store the other day I started to hear this screech screech sound and after looking around to see who was following me and finding no one I decided it was probably me. Sure enough, on further investigation I found that my right pedal was dry. Damn thing, you'd think that it would hold its lube longer. It only
sat outside over the winter since I oiled it last. These pedals are original equipment on my 1975 Schwinn. I've had them apart once to see if I could fix them until they were broke but they are bullet proof. I'm considering a zert fitting in the end now. That ought to make things plenty greasy. I'll probably consider that for a couple of years first. No sense in being hasty.

This, boys and girls, is a electric pole saw. Doesn't look like much does it? It's an old man killer. It's sitting on my tomato cages that I use to keep the rampaging killer tomatoes contained later in the season. In the distance under the wheel barrow is the worm bin where kitchen scraps are turned into worm shit. Doesn't look like much for a years worth does it? The new bin is immediately to the right at the very edge of the picture. That old rusty wheel barrow just to the right of the pole saw one of my neighbors threw out six year ago as trash. I've been using it ever since.
The pole saw only weighs 8.5 pounds (3.86 kilos) when I take it out of the shed but after about 30 minutes it weighs 300 pounds(136 kilos).

The pole saw was bought to get even with the evil Hackberry trees you see here. They pretty much killed my garden last summer so I trimmed their limbs just as they are starting to bud this year. Let's see how they like that. Of course that pole saw punishes at both ends and I am a worn out sore mess. So far the trees have hurt me as much as I have hurt them but it ain't over yet. As soon as I can rent a cherry picker I'm going to commit further havoc. If it's worth doing it's worth overdoing.
Nothing is made to last. This heavy paper weight only lasted three years and the original battery only lasted one year. The battery supplied voltage now fluctuates from 80 to 130 volts. The light bulb is in it to supply a load while I check it out. Something on the circuit board is no longer doing it's job and I suspect that is intended. I can't isolate it and I have been unable to find a new circuit board. It was intended by the manufacturer to be land fill. I don't think I'll buy another. This is my third go around with these things with the same results. I guess I'm a slow learner.

I think tomorrow I'm only going to do things that don't require me to put my arms over my head that is if I can even get out of bed.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Cars, a misdirected way of life. Part 1

This Automobile was a major player in the downfall of human powered transportation. Ford's 1908 Model T wasn't the first automobile, it wasn't even Fords first automobile but it was the one that made automobiles available to every one. I believe it was the best automobile made in the history of Ford. He didn't invent the assembly line either but he made it work. The only redemptive things he did was pay his employees enough to afford the product they made and he wasted nothing. Even the pallets and crates his parts came in were reused (Model T floorboards and Kingsford charcoal). It's all been downhill since. These days you are seen as eccentric here in Louisiana if you walk or ride a bicycle. Mothers that live within 1/2 mile of the school drive their children to the end of the driveway to catch the school bus to ride a half mile to school.

Automobiles. That's Cars in American. This is part 1 about the cars I have had.

Americans are practically all car junkies. They have been mainlining cars for over a 100 years and kicking the habit is going to be hard. I have been addicted all my life. There has never been a time when I wasn't involved with cars. I have cut the use down to a bare minimum (as I see it now but I'm sure I can cut more) but I don't foresee being able to quit entirely short of the grave. I have cut my usage to the point that is detrimental to my vehicle. If I had bus service it would be easier and I could possibly kick the habit entirely but there is not likely to be bus service here in my lifetime nor will there be sidewalks or bike paths. Public transportation in this area is essentially non-existent and all new construction is for the automobile not the people.

I have owned a motorbike, car or pickup and sometimes multiples of each since 1953 except for about a year when I joined the Navy. Oh the money I have spent.

What car do I like? All of them as long as they have air conditioning and a chauffeur. I like cars that look like cars and that pretty much stopped after World War Two. The height of style was in the thirties, with the exception of the Studebaker of the early '50's at least for me. The Studebaker (1950) wasn't really a car it was a rocket ship.

Here in Part 1 I have listed all of the cars I've owned from my 15th year until I enlisted in the Navy to be continued in Part 2. Each one has a story and memories . Some of the memories are good and some are not. Some are downright xxx rated but each car has it's own story. I owned bicycles at the same time but like most tools they were not thought of until needed. They were just part of the toolbox the "CAR" was the thing.

I still have three vehicles, one of which is the 1951 retired greyhound bus, another which is really SWMBO's (She Who Must Be Obeyed) and my 22 year old Ford jalopy which is not much better than the Model T. They are not covered here in Part 1. Except for the bus I value my bicycles the most. I'm kind of burnt out on cars. My latest cost analysis tells me that without a car my expenses would be about the same only without the convenience. The bus is valued because I sort of live in it. At least I live in it more than I live anywhere else.

I bought the bus because as a child I wanted to be a long haul bus driver and I loved Greyhound. At that time I had never seen an airplane except one that passed high overhead once a week. I was working as an airline pilot when I bought it but I still carried that bus driver fantasy. Besides I had the money and it was only 1700 dollars. It still runs and I keep it insured and licensed but I'm not going anywhere. I've only driven it a mile and half since 1993. I can't sell it for what it's worth in scrap (18,000 pounds of aluminum and steel). It's comfortable and homey to me so I think I'll keep it. After 30 years I'm kind of attached. It took the place of my boat "Serenity" when we parted. It is named "Rose" after Hoyt Axton's Scenic Cruiser "Honeysuckle Rose". I will post pictures and a write about the adventures I have had with it in the future. It's pure dieselpunk.

So here is where some of my money has gone. I spent quite a lot on women and drink as well and the rest I wasted.

1) 1938 Ford pickup truck strip down: Left to right: Jay, Ralph, Dick, Blake.

This strip down was a 1938 ford pickup that my dad gave up on. It sat out back in the Arkansas woods for several years. When I was 15 and riding motorcycles he gave it to me to do with what I wanted. The gang of 4 mechanical geniuses in the picture cut the top off and removed the doors with the aid of a hammer and cold chisel. The bed was already gone as was the gas tank. The little round 2 and ½ gallon tank behind the cab is from a late 40's vintage Cushman motor scooter and the fuel line is just bent into a loop and stuck in the filler. No cap. Don't need no stinkin' gas cap. Well much to everyone's surprise we got it running and we did it by towing it fast enough behind an Indian Arrow motorcycle. The battery we acquired was too low to even crank it but after we got it started it came up enough for a restart. Just imagine those 4 boys rocking and rolling down a dirt road with two of them sitting on the frame behind an open gas tank and an idiot at the wheel (me). Geniuses indeed.

I have no idea why we weren't killed or a least seriously mangled. Some say guardian angels but I think that pure blind dumb luck is my friend.

The picture is taken where the parking lot of the KMart on Rodney Parham Road west of Little Rock, Ark. is now. They cut down paradise and turned it into a parking lot. Attention Kmart shoppers you are parking on the ground I use to pee on.2)1938 Chevrolet 4 door: Imagine this car with no front fenders and dark green.
The '38 Chevy was a jewel. I was 16 then and it was a year older than I was. I bought it for $20.50 (He wouldn't take just $20.00 it had to be $20.50. Remember a fifty cent piece it those days was 90% silver. The car sold new for about $700 but I haven't been able to find one under $8000 lately and that is not drivable.

The engine was from a 1948 Chevrolet truck and was 300 cubic inches I was told. The number two crank throw was no good (gauled) so that piston, rod and push rods had been removed. It was a six cylinder with 5 pistons and it ran just fine. It had a little hitch in the idle but at speed you couldn't even tell that part of the engine was in the trunk. You can probably guess that I wasn't all that impressed when Mercedes came out with their 5 cylinder diesel. I had already had a 5 cylinder car and it dieseled plenty.

The engineers ran amuck at Chevrolet and had put hydraulic suspension in the front which leaked badly but reclaimed engine oil was ten cents a quart so I just poured that in. It was a real rolling oil leak. The Exxon Valdez had nothing on me. I made an oil slick everywhere I went. It had no voltage regulator just a regular household light switch I installed under the dash (don't need no stinkin' voltage regulator) to turn the generator on after it was running. If I forgot to turn it off it would try to run the generator as a motor. That was a lesson I learned when I was running with a rope for a fan belt. When you don't know what you are doing it is amazing what you can do. When I lived in Mexico I was not the least bit surprised at some of the contraptions I saw there.

I bought the car with some of the transmission parts in the trunk. A little something the former owner said didn't matter because it worked just fine. First gear was by my thigh, second gear was under the glove box and third was next to the passenger door. Oh well. I sawed off the gear shift lever so I didn't have to reach so far. Arkansas hillbilly fix.

One of my friends (Jay) had a nice '42 Mercury coupe (the last built before WW2) with a 49 Ford 100 horsepower engine but I could keep up with him on those old country roads. Let's see now, '49 Ford 100hp is 239 cubic inches and the Chevy engine was said to be a 1948 300 cu in truck engine. Minus 1 cylinder comes out to 250 cu in and with about half the body work stripped away it was light. No wonder I could keep up. We both thought we were hot drivers but in reality neither of us was worth a damn and there was not a half a brain between us. I take that back, Jay may have had a whole brain I think. He did some really good work.

Along with the transmission parts were two spare wheels with mounted tires and a couple extra worn out tires. I needed them all. In the three months I owned the car I averaged a flat a week. My best tire had a boot. My worst had a boot on a boot and I had a flat on everyone of them. Gas that summer was 19 cents a gallon.

3)1936 Ford 3 window coupe:
The '36 three window Ford ($75.00) had a really big trunk so I could sneak all of my friends into the drive-in theater with one ticket and besides it made a really big private bed and you could access it via the package shelf. Something that my best friend and his girl who weren't racially acceptable appreciated. Seven was the record for the drive-in theater. I really hated it when the theaters went to one price for the car load. It was 50 cents I think but it just took all the fun out of it.
All the windows opened including the back window which rolled down and the windshield that cranked out. You have probably figured out that this was before AC. I owned this in El Paso, Texas. Sweat was still legal in those days.
I lost it due to a lack brains enough to put in antifreeze or drain the radiator caused by teenage laziness. I should have been whipped. It was probably just as well as it had mechanical brakes and I never did learn to adjust them properly so they weren't very good. Mine didn't look nearly this good. It was gray with worn out tires.

4) 1948 Chevrolet:
The '48 Chevy was totally unexciting except like the 1938 it had a comfortable back seat for two people that wanted to get to know each other better. They were essentially the same car except for different body and a vacuum shift assisted 3 speed on the column (which assisted nothing and made speed shifting impossible). It had lack luster power but was totally reliable. I lowered the rear so that it rode like a buckboard and put fender skirts on it but it was like putting lipstick on a pig. I only got rid of it because it was boring. The stupidity of youth. I tried racing a Greyhound bus once on a cross country road trip to Phoenix, Az. chasing pus....going to see my girlfriend. I lost.
The picture is from a GM artist. The car never looked that good.

5)1949 Olds Futureamic 98:
6)1950 Olds Rocket 88:
The two Oldsmobile's, a 1949 98 and a 1950 Rocket 88, would do a true 100 mph. They both had hydromatic transmissions but neither had the new fangled power steering so it was hard work around town and you couldn't drive it with your arm around your girl. Big back seat. No AC.
The hot car in 1957 was the Chevy and the Plymouth Fury but I had a friend with mechanical talent that had a 1950 Olds 88 coupe. He beat everything at the local drag strip. While others brought their cars to the strip on trailers he drove his, won, then we would go cruise the drive-ins afterword. What fun we had. It was a hot car but had an idle that was so rough it made your bowels want to move. His mother would drive it to the grocery store but the clutch was so stiff she had to use both feet. Her regular car was a Hudson that would get rubber in second gear. Like I said my friend had mechanical talent. Funny, I can't even remember his name now. Pity.

7)1950 Nash Rambler convertible:
The Nash I just never could get a feel for. It looked like an upside down bathtub. The convertible top didn't work due to my fixing it until it was broke. I'm better now but I got better making a lot of mistakes. I do have a nasty story about an experience in it however. It was the only time I faked a headache to get out of a date. Bad memory.

8) 1954 FordThis beauty had a leather interior to match the paint job. This was a car for the girls and they did like it. It was my the last car before going into the Navy. This was a really nice car as good as anything made today and when I was 18 years old I could afford it. I can not in my wildest dream afford a 3 year old car now.

You may wonder how I could have so many cars in five year but the answer is simple. Cars were cheap as was gasoline and insurance was not required. From age 17 to 19 I worked as a apprentice printer for the El Paso times and made 100 dollars a week which was a mans wage then. I had an one room apartment at age 17 for $25.00 a month utilities paid for awhile then had a place with a roommate for a little less. Three tacos cost 35 cents, a steak dinner was $1.75 and a case of Falstaff or Pearl beer was 4 bucks. One hundred dollars would buy 3 ounces of gold and leave enough for a steak dinner. Coins were made of silver and you could buy a meal with pocket change.

I sold the Ford and gave away or abandoned everything else when I enlisted in the Navy. I got on the bus for Albuquerque with the clothes on my back and a toothbrush. I was off to see the world.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Things I Don't Get

A sure sign of spring seen from my bike yesterday.

When I was a teenager I thought that I would never be like the old people (anybody over 20) and be uncool. I thought I would change with the times, always be up to date and understand why other people did what they did. (I also vowed to never make the same mistake twice. Ha!) Little did I know that I didn't yet have enough information to make those assumptions. Some of the things that I thought uncool then were trivial superficial things such as haircuts. I wore my hair longish and in a duck tail which was all the rage. I thought my dad's conventional male cut parted on the side and short was corny. He asked once to define corny I embarrassingly could not do it and still can't although now when I think of something as corny I usually like it. As I got older and experienced every kind of hairstyle there is, I one day realized I was taking in information and forming an understanding that there were many correct cool styles. That understanding carried over into all areas of my life. There are many clothing styles, hair styles, religion styles, music styles and life styles and none is superior to any other. Who am I to judge which is cool and which is not. I know now that the style of anything that fits you is "the" style to have. So now what you see is what I am. I don't do anything to affect a style in anything but I do consciously avoid doing anything that will cause me to present an image that has to be maintained. My daughter says I'm unpredictable. I take that as a good thing.

What I am leading up to is that there are things I just don't get. I don't judge them uncool or cool. I'm not making fun or belittling them. In most cases I just don't understand them. Even when I was very young I never made fun of or sneered at someone different from whatever the momentary norm was. I went so far as to defend them even though I didn't get what ever it was that made them the target. In retrospect that was probably done because I knew that someday I could be in their shoes so it wasn't altruistic. I didn't realize then that was not normal behavior and I paid the price.

With that in mind here are some things I don't get. I'm sure the list is not all inclusive.

1. Spectator sports. At first I thought I just didn't get American football but it turns out I don't get any of it.
I admit liking woman's softball but I was there for the social activity. I got hooked because of the girl's intensity. Not having balls to walk around they drop all pretense and go in for the kill. The same with girls soccer(real football) but my girls were playing so that probably doesn't count.
If spectator sports is seen as a group social event then I get that and I don't have to know a damn thing about the particular sport itself.

2. Tattooes. I understand if it is mandatory or a required ritualistic religious thing but otherwise in a educated and sort of enlightened society I don't get it. I don't condemn it I just don't get it. Most look like a bad bruise to me. I don't condemn anyone for getting them I just don't get it. Some see it as art but I want to change the pictures on my wall occasionally. Hard to do with a tattoo.

3. Body piercing. Same as tattoos. Back when I thought we were an enlightened civilization I wondered why those that punch holes in their body didn't just go the full route and wear a bone in their nose and a cup in their lower lip. Now they are doing that and I really don't get it.

4. Self- flagellation. This includes cigarette smoking. Like all S.F. it's not good for you, it doesn't feel good , it may cause early unpleasant death, it is unpleasant for others, messy and it is very expensive. Smoking requires going through an uncomfortable and sometimes sickening adjustment period in order to feel sort of normal when smoking. Then if you elect to quit reversing the procedure is self punishment on a grand scale. I have been there so I know what I'm talking about. Beating oneself with sticks, whips or a piece of barbed wire is totally beyond my comprehension.

5. Control freaks. I don't get them. It's looks like work and requires constant attention. It can't be very satisfying as you are never finished and apparently day to day progress is unsatisfactory as well. At least those that practice it avoid me as the return for effort put out makes it just not worth it to even start. Besides it's hard to control someone whose ass is disappearing over the horizon. I think it was Snoopy that said "there is no problem so big that it cannot be run away from" or was it Charlie Brown.

6. Torture. Mental or physical I don't get it but there are plenty of humans that do. Put an ad in the paper for a torturer this evening and there will be a line around the block by morning. Americans are now known around the world for taking the righteous high ground against it, then practicing it and the courts now condone it. I just can't believe my ears when I hear supposed adults discussing the merits of it. There is no argument that will ever make me get it.

7. Watching TV. Not so much watching TV but watching the same stories over and over in the many minor variations. There are a few things I want to see again usually because I didn't absorb all I wanted on the first go around or I want a reminder of what the pleasure was when I watched it the first time. Watching endless "Law and Order" episodes I don't get. Same story over and over with the same results for the most part. I don't get watching mediocre people doing mediocre things. I get why "they" are doing that I don't get why I should watch them. I don't get watching an endless succession of hour long stories where people are graphically cut, stabbed, shot, hacked, hung, beheaded, chainsawed and torn limb from limb in glorious color.

8. Mardi Gras. I don't get it. Everyone gets drunk and watch each other driving around in vehicles that would not be allowed on the road normally, throwing bundles of beads at each other. They also throw other things such as toys and beer bottles. It's one of the times of year that homophobic men can go out in public as flamboyant drag queens. New Orleans invites you to sin then jails you if you do. I guess it started out as something to do with religion but knowing that, I really don't get it.

9. Religion. I get the need for it. An understanding that came to me when I was self studying comparative religions in my youth looking for understanding. I get the need for different levels of complexity from straight worshiping a rock to beyond the need to worship at all. What I don't get is the one against the other killing and enslavement. Why is it necessary to kill someone who holds their mouth different than another when praying. It goes on with all religions and I don't get it. I fully understand someone who needs religion at some level or other in order to be good. I guess since I don't need a reward or fear of punishment in order to be good I'll likely never get it.

10. Praying when the boat is sinking. Seems like bailing would be the thing to do first, pray later. I see this all the time (congressmen holding a prayer service instead of doing their job) and I don't get it. How about let's hold a prayer service then go dig up that guy who was just buried alive in an avalanche. I'm glad that prayer service prior to putting out a fire has not been adopted by the fire department.

This is the short list of things I don't get and I suspect will never get. There are many more I'm sure and you Dear Reader probably have some I never thought of. I think it's all a matter of my own internal wiring.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Grandpa Bill Grimes

Bill Grimes was born in Dublin around 1707. It seems he is my great, great, great, great, great grandfather. I love the name for it sounds like it came out of a dark Irish novel. I wonder what he would think of us and our silliness over Saint Patrick's day.

I suspect the only thing he would recognize here would be the clover.....and maybe the pint of beer I'm having. Who knows. Bill represents to me all the Irish in my family tree which appears to be about 90 percent of the family tree. Those Dutch boys (Swaims) in my family tree took a real liking for the Irish and Scottish girls early on.

Here's too you Bill.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Outer Space, Occult or Brain Damage

My essence being siphoned off maybe. All I know is I am not a superstitious person but this spooked me. That's me being sucked into black plastic in the background. This former door stop is part of a bike bell project. I'll get over it. Marie Laveau you there?
She: "What is it?".
He: "It's a broken light bulb filled with magnetic plastic marbles on a brass stand with chicken feet".
She: "But what's it for".
He: "It's not for anything".
She: "Why did you make it"?
He: "For you to look at and ask questions and it worked".
"What is this?" she said. I said "Right now it's a Archimedes Screw but it can be any number of things." When SHE ask if she could touch it I said of course it's for you. An hour later it had been converted into a multitude of shapes I had not thought of. Now it has been touched by her hands and is sacred. In reality it is a bunch of sticks with a rod through the middle that has now been enchanted.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Old Fools Journal: National Procrastination Week

Never Do Today What You Can Put Off Until Tomorrow
unless it's something you want to do.

Nothing warms my heart more than refusing to multi-task than just putting stuff off. I was told that National Procrastination Week was the second week in March. I'm going to look it up later or maybe mañana or the next day.

I did a more permanent temporary repair to the living room ceiling after a respectful time (17months). Once I carried some chrome trim for my old pickup around under the seat for nine years before I got around to it. I never did get around to the touch up paint. It hardened in the can. I justify procrastination with doing something else I'd rather do like look at pictures of pretty girls, or look at pretty girls, look at pictures of naked pretty girls or take a nap. Nap is something I never put off. Sometimes it catches me unaware.

Procrastination goes hand in hand with Slow Down and the Institute of Not Doing Much.

Turns out that most of what I have put off didn't require doing anyway. Sort of like telling about National Procrastination Week.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Flying

When I joined the Navy it wasn't to run away from anything it was just to get on with the adventure of life. I was 19 years old and had a good job making a mans wage. I had a late model automobile, spent a lot of time whoring around in Juarez, Mex, could travel anywhere I wanted and dated one of the prettiest girls in El Paso, Texas. I lived on my own and got along well with my parents but it was time to go adventuring and I, as a hillbilly from Arkansas, chose the Navy. In my innocence I thought there was a chance that I would be trained as a pilot.

How naive. I was told of the grand and glorious possibilities I would have in the Navy but probabilities were not mentioned. Almost immediately I was weeded out. I had no high school diploma, a crown on one tooth, wore glasses and the classic disqualification, I was too short. OK, so I'm inferior but I'll have fun anyway.

After four years of sea duty in the U. S. Navy which pretty much cemented my love for the Pacific Ocean I retired happily and without any bitterness. I actually enjoyed my time there and did OK but it appeared to me to be a dead end job. I spent my last year there preparing to go to school.

While I was in engineering school (Northrop Institute of Technology) I was conspired against by friends and introduced to flying light airplanes. Less than than two months later I soloed in the very airplane in the picture at the top of the page. It's a Cessna 140 constructed in 1946 of aluminum but with a fabric wing, N number 77268. I soloed that airplane at Jack Northrop Field/Hawthorne Municipal Airport. I started lessons May 9, 1963 and soloed June 29, 1963. I passed the flight check for private pilot September 25, 1963. It was an exciting 139 days.

When I passed the private test I started on the Commercial license within days. I had already determined that I could pass the second class medical exam and I was going all out to become a commercial pilot. I had quit school and decided that I was going to make a living flying airplanes no matter what it took or in what capacity I might work. I would have sold my soul to the devil but the devil knew I was a non believer and would have no part of it.

So I had decided to go to Meridian, Mississippi for crop dusting school as soon as I had my commercial. While talking one day to Jean Rose who, with her husband Rex, owned Rose Aviation my plans came up and she told me that if I would get my instructors rating that she would hire me. What a dilemma. I really wanted to be a crop duster. I did what any good pilot would do after thinking such a weighty decision over. I flipped a coin and had another pilot call it in the air. I stayed and started on my instructors rating right away after receiving my commercial on February 24, 1964.

I passed the instructors test April 10, 1964 and Jean put me to work the next day. After that I was ruined for any gainful employment.

I flew airplanes in what ever capacity I could find over the years including flight instructor, charter, freight, telephone cable patrol, pipeline patrol and airline. Rumors of smuggling are unfounded. I flew last as pilot in command on November 27, 2007 on a pipeline patrol.I started with the airlines as Flight Engineer in one of these. A Boeing 720B which is a B707 with 15 feet chopped out of the middle. I never got over it. I really loved that airplane.
The Navy didn't think I had the Right Stuff. 1979. When I wear a watch I still wear the Seiko in the picture. If you have to travel on the airlines this is a good seat to have.

The next day I flunked my physical because of blood pressure issues. It was no different than it had been for the 5 years prior and I think the medical examiner thought I was too old to be doing such foolishness and flying airplanes. He was 75 or so, I was 67. For me I was just tired of fighting to retain my license so I said screw it and retired. I never looked back, never regretted the decision and am very satisfied with life. I guess I flew enough because I don't miss it. I have enough flying stories to tell to last the rest of my life without too many repeats.
Outside of the office at my last flying job.Inside the office.View from the office. Downtown Houma, La.

When all was said and done I mostly flew so I could go sailing.

Jean Rose, bless her heart, has gone on to wherever Amelia Earhart and those like her have gone. She was of that quality and she believed in me. In my arrogance I didn't appreciate it at the time.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Cargo Basket

I stumbled across this in the U.S. outlet of the Chinese store Wal-mart a while back and thought I'd share it. I wasn't really looking for a basket at the time but this just seemed to be right in so many ways the first of which is the price $4.99 plus tax, license and dealer prep.
It opens easily and its dimensions are 13.5 inch X 18.5 X 1.75 folded 9 inches deep when unfolded. Solid bottom and the holes in the side are fairly small so loose items should stay in it. It weighs 1.75 pounds.

What I like is it's low wind profile when not in use.

I'm off to attack the winter weeds before they go to seed. I'll speak of that later.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Industrial Wall Lamp or something like that

I have been wanting to make an industrial looking sconce for a bare bulb lamp to replace the last of the old plastic fake porcelain fixtures. They are industrial looking but just didn't suit me. I wanted something a little more steamy.

I like bare bulb lamps because I like the endless variety of shapes bulbs come in. I think they are beautiful, even the plain old garden variety. I don't find the spiral compact fluorescent to even come close. Most people including SWMBO like their bulbs covered with a shade. I want to see mine. I especially like the elongated clear bulbs of early last century. I have bulbs with shades but the bulb in that case is to show off the shade.
So I happened to have a couple of these water heater connection pipes that I picked up at the thrift store for 25 cents. While looking at them the other day the light bulb over my head went on like it does over a cartoon characters head when they get a bright idea. Shouting "eureka, eureka" I went off to the laboratory (shed) to see what I could fabricate.
This stuff is about as stiff as it can be and still be bent cold. I heated it with a torch just to make it a little more pliable and get some fairly tight turns.
A brass lamp fixture, some lamp cord and a brass wall plate finished it up. The solid brass wall plate is from a half dozen I picked up a year or so ago in a close out sale for $1.99 for the lot. See picture at the top of the page for installation.

I must say it's not the best job I've done but it goes with my mish mash of other lights.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Must be gettin' on to Spring

Yes, Yes and am I ready. My little camera doesn't do these subjects justice but it's what I have. The bulbs survived the dog pack one more year.
These guys will be leaving soon. I have enjoyed them and hope they remember us and come back next year.
I know I said I wasn't going to do it (plant) this year but I thought I'd pick these few things up just in case I change my mind. 10 tomato plants of different varieties. Two jalapenos to replace the two that froze, a bell pepper and some Rosemarie. $17.50 in American money so far but I'll probably buy some dirt since I have such poor luck with what I have. These will go in pots which I have already but still it's going to be a lot more money. It's cheaper to buy groceries and forget this growing foolishness. It's cheaper still to just eat at the junk food shops off the dollar menu. I think that's what most people here do but I haven't been in a Macdonalds or anywhere of that type in so long I would be uncomfortable. I did go into a Taco Bell last year in the summer and eat a 79 cent bean burrito but that's about it.

Two more days and I will finish the tomatoes I grew in the fall.

So how did my birthday go? It had to be one of the most pleasant birthdays in my life. My princesses called and talked to me. Did you pay attention? They talked to me. That's different from "how you doing/", "happy birthday", "gotta go". I heard from others that truly matter to me through Facebook and email and every message was a grand gift to me. The only thing is that it makes me want to see them all.

I spent a fairly warm day in my shed playing with my tools and making stuff (later post) and I only bled once.

My bride (SWMBO) and I spent the evening in my hovel after "she who not only must be obeyed but is also all knowing" brought me pizza, wine (good stuff) and coconut cake. JOY! It was a most pleasant evening and I stayed up too late, ate too much and drank too much wine which was just the right amount.

So Mom, Thanks.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Happy Birthday Grandma Flora Belle

Flora Belle Baker is my great-great-grandmother on my dad's side of the family and she is 142 years old today. She is however quite dead. Our lives overlapped a little more than 20 years and I am so sorry I never met her. I hope that remembering her on our shared birthday in some little way makes up for that.

As I said in 2008 and 2009 it is a day that I

My mom. Look at those eyes.

celebrate my mother. I know there is an official mothers day but this is MY mothers day.

There has never been a moment that I doubted her love and care. She was a real mom.

It has been implied that March 5, 1939 when I first met her that I wasn't the best of company. That's probably because I was hungry a condition I have never quite gotten over.

Batman will be 71 in a couple of months. Older than Batman boggles my mind.
They were fighting in Palestine when I was born and still are.
Wizard of OZ is still my favorite movie of all time.
Radio Shack started up. Not my favorite company now.
There is war. What else is new. There has never been a moment in my life that there wasn't.

Even at this age I have a goal and that is to "know everything before I return to that place from whence I came".

So here I go for another turn around the minor star humans call Sol.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Old Sailing Story

The above photo is a scan of the original production brochure for the Champion. With the ship on autopilot I could sit just inside that curved withshield with my back to the bulkhead and observe the sea going by nice and dry. And I did.

The recent news events about a killer whale brought back memories of a killer whale story of my own. Back around 1970 I owned a little sailing ship in Redondo Beach, California. I named it the "Stormy Petrel" after the tiny seabird seen offshore far at sea hovering above the surface and feeding on stuff you can't see. They are only about 6 inches (15 cm) long but for their body length have an impressive wing span and longest legs. They come to land only to breed.

I thought that the name was appropriate for this little vessel which had lived up to that name already when I bought it. I acquired it from the brother of the man who built it from individual parts all bought piecemeal from the Fiberglas Sailboats Company and he did a magnificent job. He then used it (I believe) as therapy sailing it alone offshore for weeks at a time after an "unfortunate event" in his life. His brother had renamed it "ARABRAB" which is Barbara backwards. I had to change the name. Stormy Petrel was only 21 feet (6.4m)long on deck but in that length incorported a double berth forward, an enclosed head and galley midships, two quarter berths aft and an inboard single cylinder "Vire" engine with Morse single lever controls. The brochure claimed it could seat six in the cockpit but that meant 6 very little people.

In 1970 or thereabouts my beautiful future exwife and I decide to load the camping gear, her beautiful daughters and her wonderful mother on the boat and go camping on Catalina Island. I took a ton of pictures with the Kodak but they have all disappeared into the great black hole of moving around.

We took an eight foot dingy with us to get ashore and set off. It was an uneventful trip with the youngest daughter looking at me with accusing eyes the whole time blaming me for her torture and eventual death. She lived and went on to worse things. The mother-in-law as usual was the greatest of company, a willing worker, great personality and just generally good company. She has gone on now to wherever good people go but I still see her kind face in my memory. She is where my date got her good looks and sense of humor.
This is the cove but taken at a later date from another boat. I revisited this spot many times

I put them ashore on Catalina Island with a tent and supplies for two weeks. I believe it was south of Empire Landing (where I fell off my boat while mooring in full winter regalia years later, another story) in Rippers Cove but I could be wrong. They were capable and resourceful and could walk out if I did not return. No telephone, no radio, no electricity, no readily available fresh water, no ambulance service, no problem. Five good looking smart females, I was surprised that they didn't have servants when I returned a week later and a sack of gold.

When I left them there to go back to work (I was flying for the airlines at the time) I knew they would be OK. I had equipped this little ship with a tiller operated autopilot so as I was lazing along on the way back to Redondo Beach in a light breeze I was lying in the cockpit reading, musing and napping. Just off Palos Verdes I was awakened by a presence and an unfamiliar noise, huffing and puffing as it were. The boat is so small (lying down I could reach over the side and dip my hand in the water) that I didn't even have to get up to see that I was surrounded by ORCA's, the deadly killer whale, not. There must have been 8 or 10 of them just swimming along at about my speed. Looking me over I suspect. It was my first of many encounters with whales and it was indelibly stamped on my memory. All I really remember is that first sighting of whales all around me and I was so awestruck that I did not even reach for my camera. It wouldn't have mattered I would have lost the pictures anyway but I consider it a gift that I will always remember.
It looked like this only all around the boat. Made my mustache stand straight out and made my skin look like a fresh plucked chicken. What a rush.

The first of many whale images that I will never forget.

Of all the boats I have had that little ship was the best.