Monday, December 31, 2007

The last laugh

Today is the end of 2007, as I am sure you were aware. Was it a good year?


Yes, it was. And as far as that goes, it got better as it went along thank you very much.

Happy New Year to you and yours. I hope to see you all soon.


Friday, December 28, 2007

Finally, some content

Thanks for waiting.

The eight weeks running up to Christmas is a pretty busy time, and it gets to the point where I'm simply not home during daylight hours. I have a lot of fun but Stuff Gets Put Off. Things happen like I forget I have a pool.

So today was the day to deal with Jessamy's car. It got broken into the day after my birthday and it needed a window replaced. :-( So last night I pulled it into the garage and helpfully vacuumed up all the glass I could find in the car and I tried to get the window mechanism to go back down into the door. To do this I had the ignition turned on. This morning I called around and found a shop that could replace the window same-day. The price was pretty good too. I was supposed to be there at 11.

About 10:40 I go out to the garage, move Sharon's car out of the way, and get into Jess's car and turn the key.

Nothing happens. Not even a click. I had left the ignition on all night.

So no problem, I'll put the car in neutral, roll it out of the garage and jump start it. I put my hand on the shifter and press down on the button.

It doesn't move. You need to have the ignition on to shift the transmission.

OK. Hmmm. I open the hood. Except it only opens about six inches. The car is parked with its front just under the workbench at the back of the garage. The workbench blocks the hood from opening. I can see the battery...

So I prop the hood open with a plastic peanut jar that's holding a bunch of drywall screws. That's just enough so I can reach in and clip the jumper cable clamps onto the battery terminals. I pay out the rest of the cable and it reaches not quite to the rear bumper.

Hmmm. Maybe I'll take the battery out of one of the many cars we have and use that to jump...

So I go wake up Andy and ask him if he has jumper cables, which I then locate and clip onto the end of the OTHER jumper cables as a MacGuyver extension cord. I get Sharon's car in position and open the hood and connect the cables.

So since I don't think it would be prudent to try to start Jess's car with extended jumper cables, I just switch the ignition on so I can put the transmission in Neutral. That works.

I put away the extender cables, remove the original set of jumper cables, remove the peanut jar, and close the hood. I move Sharon's car back out of the way. Then I can take off the brake and use my left foot to push Jess's car backwards out of the garage.

Holy mother of god it is hard to steer a modern car while you are rolling it slowly and there is no power steering.

I finally get the car rolled down the driveway so it's about even with the front of the Suburban. Once again I connect up the jumper cables (just one set this time) and try to start the little blue car. I needed to start the Suburban to get enough voltage to start the Honda.

After the Honda was started up, I put away the cables in the trunk so I could use them again if needed, closed up the Suburban, closed the garage door, and got on my way.

The window got fixed, rather uneventfully, and all was well.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

New Post

Obligatory excuses about not posting.

Content meant to be exciting, but not quite.

A clever picture is displayed.

Witty caption.

kthx bai

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me

Must call Mom and thank her for having me. I'd have missed all this fun otherwise.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Just when you thought I'd given up blogging

Yeah, it's been a while. Call Ghostbusters on me.

So last week I had a cold, for one day. On the day before and the eight days since, I've just been A Little Congested. At least that's the line I use to avoid having to stay at home sick in bed. I don't think I've infected anyone else since I've been a busy bee with hand washing and all that hygiene crap.

Being out sick is always weird. I invariably can't think straight so all my thoughts are curvy that day.

So Dickens Fair has been a blast. We have had more than our share of medical emergencies in our group - not being able to breathe and stuff like that, and a sword fighting injury(!) but everyone is well now. Ye Olde Naughty French Postcard Show is really very entertaining as well. Did I mention the copious quantity of naked breasts?

Went on a one day work trip to Burbank then by car to an industrial park 32 miles north. I picked up a Hollywood shot glass. It's garish. Sweet.

Come to the fair. It's great!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

My outside voice

That last post was kinda freaky, eh? It was very difficult to avoid laughing while taking the picture.

So tomorrow The Great Dickens Christmas Fair opens. Stop by and see us if you have a free day.

I'll see you there. Look for me in a bright green coat and black top hat.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Would you like milk in your coffee?

My bosom buddy Peggy found this for me at the thrift store. Yes, the nipple functions. Perhaps I'll take it to work, not.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

It's Beautiful

If I do say so myself.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Don't freak out

Two posts in the same week - WHO DIED!?!

I did the final glue up of the fair cart. It looks like this now. It's upside down. Tantalizing isn't it?

And just in case there was any doubt that I make a mess when I'm creating - this is the workbench AFTER I cleaned up.
Next are the final fiddling around parts and then I take it to Dickens Fair to show off.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


So I've been neglecting all of you dear reader(s) and building a project.
Here's all the bits so far...
Steering, not just for race cars anymore...
The all important user interface...
The new and more elegant post lock...
Remember the FairMobile III? Well I got it in my head to build the Mark IV. Our friends the Blackburn's decided that they needed a FairMobile so I am taking the opportunity to build a replacement for us that will address all of the limitations of the Mark III. I want this one to last forever, therefore the over-engineering is palpable. To wit:
  • The cart has an XMAS'Y color scheme - red and green
  • The steering is like a bike, a forked post that is mounted on ball bearings
  • The handle is so cool, well you'll just have to believe me on this one
  • The wheels have bearings for smooth sailing
  • The rear axle is moved back to control the pesky wheelies that the old cart would do on inclines
  • The post lock operates with one easy to turn handle instead of two thumb screw things
I'm having a lot of fun with all the metal work, though I really could use a full metalworking tool upgrade. If you are wondering what to get me for XMAS, a full machine shop would be great.

I'll post a "final" picture in a few days.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Aren't you a little short to be a Storm Trooper?

Well, the costume finally got finished. And if I do say so myself, it is an awesome costume.

Danny really liked it and it got LOTS of "That's the best costume we saw all night!" comments when we were out trick or treating.

If you want to make your own, go here and get the full scoop. It only took about 20 or 30 hours or so. If you like watching contact cement dry, this is your project.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


I have a lot of good friends. Here are just two of them.

I like to know what my friends like and what amuses them. I like to know what is important to them and how their lives are going. I like to spend time with them and learn something new about them that I never knew. I like to do things for my friends. I like to hear them laugh and see them smile.

My life would be so much less without my friends. That's why I invest so much just to be with them. The time I spend with friends is precious to me; in the moment, I never want it to end.

If you are my friend, thanks. It really means a lot to me.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Fun at Faire

In contrast to all the non-fun that I had at faire last year. THIS year, I have had fun. Lots of fun.

Step 1 - Middle Class, not noble. I just couldn't carry off the improvisation without the history and remembering lots of names and other facts that would make it work. In Middle Class, the costume is more comfortable, the acting is easier and I can be more at ease.

Step 2 - Keep moving. Staying stuck to one place isn't as much fun as hamming it up in the street.

Step 3 - Pick a role that you can really inhabit. I'm playing a steward - the fellow in charge of the lord's household. That suits me. I end up playing *host* a lot, which I really like to do anyway.

Tomorrow morning we leave for Folsom Faire, the last renaissance faire this year. I'm looking forward to it for the playing and for being with friends. In two weeks - Dickens Christmas Fair begins, well workshops start, and that's when the fun begins anyway. Wheeeeee!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Yay it works again!

Our router here at the casa was going sicko on us about a few times a month, then a few times a week, then about five times a day. Internet connection would drop and sadness would grip the household. So we got a new one. Of course it arrived while I was at work, then since I stopped along the way home to pick up a pop up travel trailer, Andy got home from work first and proceeded to set it up and rescue us from disconnection hell.

Oh yeah, the trailer. It's a biggun as far as popups go and we're storing it for a friend. So I backed it into the driveway. Yes, it was tricky. It involved 2X6's and a neighbor. There is a reason that I'm not a professional trailer backer upper.

And our honorary daughter Amy pointed out that I failed to blog about the gardening exploits in the pool yard. So here goes:
Medium sized tree - out
thorn-less fruitless overgrown blackberries - out (Sharon did this and it was amazing)
Fence - built
Gate - built
7 plants - planted (I only dug two holes on this one)
drip system - check
pavers - check
GIANT pile of brush to be removed - still in the yard

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Just in time for the holidays

(Picture from here)

The holidays are coming like it or not. In less than a month, the second biggest holiday in the USA will be celebrated, and it's all about dead people and candy. Because dead people and candy go together at least as well as someone rising from the dead and candy.

Now, I like holidays as much as the next guy; really, I do. It's just that the whole basis and meaning and practice of holidays is such a jumble of myths and symbols and rituals that it just seems a skosh weird to me. The pagan traditions were co-opted by the Christians and then the mass commercialization came into play in this century, then the political corrections crept in and the attempt was made to *mainstream* other cultural holidays, and to create new ones for balance... It's gotten out of hand people.

I'm not proposing any solutions here, like the metric system for holidays. But I would like to see things get simpler. I'd like to see holidays in the latter part of the year get separated, and celebrated for just one day instead of a whole month at a time. I'd like to see Halloween decorations for a few days before the end of October, not beginning on October first.

Of course I'm not helping things by participating in the Dickens Christmas Fair, which runs from the day after Thanksgiving to the day before Christmas eve this year. I wouldn't miss it for anything, but it does feel a wee bit premature to pretend that it's Christmas eve on the day after Thanksgiving.

But rest assured that the holidays will come and go, just like every other year, starting on October first and ending in April when the Easter candy runs out. In the middle there will be lots of celebration, Jimmy Stewart movies, eating and drinking, reflection and forgiveness, presents, SALES, travel, family reunions, cards, and lots and lots of candy. (Who doesn't like candy?)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

first rain

a delight to wake me
making life wet
too many days past
in which I had forgot

the pleasure of rain
soft and gentle rain
drops falling from leaves
peaceful burbling patter

plans changed
days diverted
nothing else matters
in the rain

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Danny turns a little older today. Here he is with his buddies celebrating the event yesterday evening.

They stayed up until like three o'clock. Now they are playing video games and they are all gleefully shooting each other to virtual smithereens.

24 hour birthday party with 10 guests - priceless.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Another day

What a beautiful day it's been. No special reason, just a beautiful day.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Wow, less than a week

So, we still have temporary doors in the front of the house. Note the subtle tasteful "1/4 Plywood" accents.

Must Do Something soon.

Work has had its ups and downs over the last six months. When I started, shipments tailed off really fast, we had lots of technical problems, and I was re-learning how to manage hourly staff members. Six months on, shipments are back up and increasing, technical problems are getting resolved, and my staff are less alienated than before. I think I'll stay on.

Speaking of the president (no, not him) the pres at work and the former pres at former work couldn't be more different. Yeah, both really smart and energetic, but he had a hyper-direct, totally candid style. Now, not so much. It has taken some getting used to.

Monday, September 03, 2007


I don't talk about the family directly much since this blog is supposed to be all about ME ME ME. On the other hand, I'm very proud of my family and I think I'll be forgiven if I tell a little bit about them now and again.

My little girl is all grown up. She still gets carded even though she's well past the date. She has a car, and can even parallel park. She lives with roommates and goes to school. She's her own woman. Still our baby, but a woman unto her own.

She's articulate, and thoughtful, and loving. She's flawed just like everyone else, but she has family and friends that truly love her. She laughs and jokes, and we really enjoy our time with her. She is, if I do say so myself, a wonderful person.

I never really understood life like I did once I had a child. Now that she's an adult, I think I learned a whole lot more.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Tally Ho!

We made it to Tahoe and back. A good time was had by all. We went to see the burned out area in South Lake Tahoe. It was pretty sad. We took a jet ski ride and right in the middle of it we saw fire, less than 1/4 mile from our rented home for the week. It took about eight hours and lots of helicopter drops to get it out. *Only* five houses were destroyed.

On the very last day, Sharon and I got up early and watched the sunrise over the lake. It was simply beautiful.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 09, 2007


I got the camera. Woot! I'd show you a picture of it, but that's tricky.

Next week we all head to the great outdoors. Tahoe, land of restaurant dinners, scenic views, and rather cold swimming.

Friday, August 03, 2007

It got wierd, didn't it?

It's been something of a busy/crunchy two weeks or so...

0. We had a GREAT time at SLO Faire. The good time we had was TOTALLY UNRELATED to this picture of some of the gals from the adjacent group as they were taking down their pavilion.

Matching brassieres, hats, and jeans. Nice touch. (Yeah, they are different colors and sizes but try to work with me here people.)

1. Jessamy was out of town and injured her knee. Not life threatening but a bummer nonetheless.
2. My camera became lost. Oops. Time for a new camera. I've chosen the Canon SD-750.
3. A severe headache that lasts for eight days is really a drag, even if it is your spouse that has it. (Doctors have been seen, also not life threatening, still a big bummer.)
4. I finally got off my gorgeous butt and demolished the ugly ass rusty POS original window

that looked out on the beautiful front patio with all the beautiful plants. Now there is a four foot wide door opening and some temporary doors that will remain until we decide to spend the $1800 to get the custom door and window units for the front of the house. I'd post "after" pictures except...
5. The pool is green. Ugh.

Tomorrow I'm going to the dump. These are my salad days indeed.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I'll write you every day...

I think I'm better than I really am at a lot of stuff. Not delusional mind you, but certainly distorted.
  1. I think I blog often. But it looks like it's been about 10 days or so.
  2. I think I keep my stuff neat. Actually at home I'm not so neat. Stuff piles up and stays that way for approximately forever. At work, I'm a neat freak.
  3. I think I'm pretty relaxed. Actually, I'm mostly not.
  4. I think I'm REALLY smart. Then I encounter people who are LOTS smarter than me and I remember that I'm just bright.
  5. I think I'm ALL rational. Then I do something based solely on emotion.
It goes on. I suppose I just have a "simplified" view of myself that I use every day for mundane stuff, when in reality I'm actually a lot more complicated.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

High School Meme

Grace posted this meme and since I am bored and not feeling very creative I'm posting it too...

1. Who was your best friend?
Bill. I spent, like every evening with Bill and he was a great buddy. Eric was a close second.

2. What sports did you play? None, just like now.

3. What kind of car did you drive? A blue 1969 Toyota Corona station wagon like this (except it was a wagon).

4. It’s Friday night, where were you? At Bill's house, unless it was football season then I was running sound at the game.

5. Were you a party animal? Uh, yeah.

6. Were you considered a flirt? Since second grade.

7. Were you in band, orchestra, or choir? Choir, both the main choir and the men's ensemble.

8. Were you a nerd? Oh yeah. Big time. But in a totally cool way, of course. ahem.

9. Did you get suspended/expelled? I was sent out of AP English class, only once, for asking the teacher to move aside so I could copy something from the board. I did so silently by motioning with my hand, and the teacher took offense at my gesture. I subsequently missed the answer to the question on the quiz that would have been answered by the note I wished to take. The word to be defined was "mendicant", a beggar.

10. Can you sing the fight song? I think there was a song but I have no idea what it was.

11. Who was your favorite teacher? Mr. Ray Doherty (theatre) and Mr. Ray Dieteker (electronics). They both smoked (cigarettes and a pipe, respectively) and had catchphrases ("Get your own show!" and "Just bend the wires!", respectively) and were named Ray.

12. School mascot? I got nuthin.

13. Did you go to Prom? Absolutely not.

14. If you could go back and do it over, would you? If I could start over in High School knowing what I do now, I would, because I would totally rock at it.

15. What do you remember most about graduation? Sitting next to Nancy.

16. Where were you on senior skip day? I graduated (with all required credits and courses) as a Junior.

17. Did you have a job your senior year? I worked for the school (yes, they paid students) in the AV department setting up and running video for classes. I was a model employee.

18. Where did you go most often for lunch? The deli across the street. I typically had a deli sandwich on a French roll, a quart of whole milk, and a Three Musketeers bar. I ate like this all the time and at 16 I was 6' 2" and 160 pounds.

19. Have you gained weight since then? About 50 pounds.

20. What did you do after graduation? Moved out and got a job building electronics. (Thanks Ray.)

21. Who was your Senior prom date? See #13.

22. Are you going / did you go to your 10 year reunion? No way.

23. Who was your home room teacher? I didn’t have homeroom.

24. Who will repost this after you? I hope someone will since it would be lame if I was alone on this one.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Like a virgin

After about a whole bunch of hours, my computer is all refresh-ified. It has new-car smell. In one heartless effort last night I reduced the hard drive to a bunch of reformatted sectors and re-installed from scratch.

I realized today that the operating system installation was the original install from Dell in 2001, upgraded to WinXP. (It was the beginning of the Bush Reign back then, before he had proclaimed himself omnipotent ruler of all Neoconistan! I ordered it on September 5th. The invoice was dated the 11th.) So now it's like new. I got all my data moved over again and hey, no more cruft!

This time I plan to avoid some annoying programs like Acrobat and use cute pdf instead. Maybe I can avoid the bloated HP printer/scanner software too.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Fucking spammers...

I've been dealing with the aftermath of a close call computer wise. We picked up a virus in the process of clicking on an E-Card. My advice - never EVER click to see the card.

Several thousand spams sent from here, and several thousand bounce messages and even MORE card spams received... Craptastic McAfee virus scanner that won't install because it detects a previous version of McAfee virus scanner (that it says it will take out, BUT DOESN'T!)... etc, etc.

We didn't lose any data but it has wasted a lot of time.

Back up your stuff. Run a virus scanner, even though it is an annoying resource hog. Have all of your re-installation disks organized and handy.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Birthday tidbits

December 12th:

1098 - First Crusade: Massacre of Ma'arrat al-Numan - Crusaders breach the town's walls and massacre about 20,000 inhabitants. After finding themselves with insufficient food, they resort to cannibalism.

1914 - The largest one-day percentage drop in the history of Dow Jones Industrial Average, down 24.39%

1901 - Guglielmo Marconi receives the first trans-Atlantic radio signal at Signal Hill in St John's, Newfoundland.

1978 - Nicole, Erica and Jaclyn Dahm, American triplet Playboy models
1970 - Madchen Amick, American actress

Kenya - Jamhuri Day: Independence Day (from Britain, 1963)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


So, late on Sunday afternoon we were sitting and reading and noticed a flicker in the light. Could have been a loose bulb... Then Jessamy came in and said the lights in the bathroom were flickering and there was a buzzing from outside. The transformer on the pole at the corner of our property was makin' noise. So we called the friendly PG&E people. They said they'd be out to check on us in the next two hours. I went and peeked at the transformer again and this time the buzzing was accompanied by arcing sounds and blue-white sparks coming out of the switch thingy that shuts off power to the transformer when needed. (like now) So we called PG&E again... Then there was one last fzzzptphzzpt! and some pieces of ceramic insulator fell from the top of the pole to the street. Then there was no power at all.

We went shopping, like any self respecting consumers without electricity.

A few minutes after we got back to our very dark street and house, the big blue trucks showed up with three fearless animated repair fellows who assured us that they'd have it all fixed in a jiffy. They replaced that switch thingy you see pictured (note the broken bit up on the top left) with a much improved thingy. To paraphrase the repair guy, "Oh we always replace these old things. See how lousy they are?"

Sunday, June 24, 2007

All Aboard!

The secret is out so I can tell you all about it now. Our longtime friends Janet and Bob had a party for Bob's 65th birthday. It was a surprise and Janet had been planning it for months. Bob is a train buff and not surprisingly the party was train themed. Janet asked Sharon and I if we could build a train car that had been converted into a diner for the party. That's it above. After we had it put together Sharon said we should have made a tin roof for it. That would have been good.

The party was a huge surprise for Bob despite the fact that Janet had been actively working on it for months and there were 6o guests with a sit-down dinner. It was the classic, "He doesn't suspect a thing!" situation. Happy Birthday Bob!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

This was inevitable

There is a documentary, 50 minutes long, called Breasts. I, of course, added it to my Netflix queue.

Monday, June 18, 2007

King of Hearts

Went to a garden party (kind of) the other evening and had a lovely time. We all mosied over to Nona's Cafe in Pacifica for a dee-licious dinner. When we came into the party we were in the middle of a Tarot card reading. Not the kind where the person reading the cards knows what the heck they are doing, just the kind where the party goer reads the card about a person sitting two people away from them.

I know this is full-on blasphemy for my Tarot reading friends, but I didn't have a lot to say about it.

The Pirate festival in Vallejo was fun. There were a lot of things that could have been different, starting with SHADE. It was right on the waterfront with no shade at all. It also needed more street theatre, though there were plenty of playtrons that made walking around interesting if not outright entertaining.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Oops, I did it again

Uh, I forgot to blog...

Valhalla Renaissance fair at Tahoe, two weekends in a row. Weekend 1 was interesting as our fearless leader Rydell was more than a little under the weather. We pulled through OK. I drank too much on Sunday and paid for it with a day long headache. Weekend 2 was much more straightforward, nobody was sick and I left the martini fixins at home. There were some long faces when I said I had left the gin and shaker behind.

Our friend Kurt proposed to his now fiancé Danielle. It was a big surprise to her. He managed to get about forty people to pose for a group photo and then got down on his knee and proposed. She hadn't suspected a thing.

This time around I played Master Robert Collier (clever eh?) the steward of the household of the noble hosting the queen. That's a long way of saying head waiter. I like the acting gig because it requires an infinitesimal amount of acting. I looked fabulous in my borrowed costume, and I only got one snarky comment about my hat, but it was from someone who had just proclaimed her (joyful) state of inebriation. I didn't take it too seriously.

On weekend one we went to the Harrah's eat-all-you-possibly-can buffet in South Lake Tahoe. It was expensive but you could have all the bacon wrapped filet mignon you wanted. They had quite a variety of food, all of which was kinda mass-market. We left full.

So all this fun is really tiring and all and I have been dragging ever since. No matter though, I still found the energy to mindlessly surf the internet a few times and sit around a bunch.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Slacker's Writing Corner

Forgive me father for I have sinned. It has been eight days since my last blog post.

Hey, I was busy! OK?

All through the week I was busily (got that, busily) working on the pool heating system of doom. So now at long last, it's operational. Note I said operational, not completely finished. Looky here:
The miracle you see here only leaks a little. And there is still a truckload of crap to haul off to fill in the various cracks in the Earth near here. With some sorting, the concrete and used wood can go to recycling and there isn't too much else. Does anyone need about 80 feet of used (read; funky) 2 inch PVC pipe?

On a technical level, the original goal of reducing system pressure was a success. I lowered it by about 1/3. I was ecstatic. This was achieved by getting the system off of the roof so the water didn't have to be lifted there, and by eliminating the aforementioned 80 feet of pipe and a buttload of two inch elbows (There's a visual for you) that had been used to make all the funky angle turns up and over the roof. Now we have plenty of flow and that will improve all the things that DIY'er pool owners lose sleep over. The panels are also in full sun longer for even more deliciously warm water.

After a couple of leak fixes, a little paint, and a bit of bamboo screening I can call it really done, or as done as outdoor projects really get. Don't let me forget to patch all the little holes in the roof from the old mounting system.

Oh yeah, I went to work all week too. And we all moved our offices, and I learned even more about all of my coworkers' personalities.

Then on Friday, we went out for a Liquor Cabinet meeting where the ruling elite of Otherbookistan discuss matters of state. Here is a shot of the Empress, Emperor, and Prime Minister (or something like that) at our first stop, The Holy Grail pub in SF.
We had a great time there and then we wandered a couple of blocks to take in Tommy's Joint (an SF Landmark) where we regaled each other with tales from the empire.

Today (Monday) we went to a memorial for Ray. Usually this sort of gathering is attended by a few tens of people. Not for Ray thank you very much. The entire theatre was filled, about 700 seats and the celebration of all of the goodness that Ray had brought took about three and a half hours. It was really great to see how much joy one person can bring. Amazing really.

Last but most importantly, we shared our 23'rd wedding anniversary this weekend. I could say all sorts of mushy stuff here but I will save it for my sweetie.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Step away from the meme

A couple of my friends did this meme and I'm so self centered that I have to do it as well even though I wasn't officially tagged.

The Rules:
1. Each player starts with 7 - 8 random facts/habits about themselves.

2. People who are tagged write a blog post about their own 7 - 8 random things and post these rules.

3. At the end of your blog you need to tag 7 - 8 people and post their names.

4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment and tell them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

So here is my attempt at interesting content with this one.

1. I straighten and re-stack items like canned goods in stores when I shop because the un-straight items bother me greatly. Similarly, I will consolidate the "orphaned" items displayed in multiple opened cartons in Costco so that they are all in one open carton. Then I stack up the empty cartons.

2. When I am buying multiples of items, I highly prefer to buy in even numbers. For example, I would never buy three cans of soup. I would buy four instead.

3. When I moved out of the house at eighteen, I created a list of my own recipes that were unintentionally and excruciatingly lame. The most famous was "cold tacos" that featured uncooked tortillas, grated cheese, and bologna. I still get fan mail about that one.

4. I have had some bad luck with getting cuts from glass; twice involving emergency rooms.

5. My parents enlisted the help of my best friend in seventh grade to keep me from building a mini bike. They were going to surprise me with one for Christmas. It went so far that he was telling me white lies about helping me gather parts to slow down my progress.

6. I sent my mom to the thrift store to buy me mechanical things to take apart. I would re-purpose the parts to make nearly useless stuff. In one case I used a phonograph motor (the shaded pole AC variety) to hold a plastic coffee can lid onto which I attached a piece of paper. When it spun you could draw on the paper with colored pens and make neat patterns. (I know this item refers to some pretty old technology like phonographs and canned coffee but you'll just have to get over that.)

7. The first time I parallel parked a car, in driver training the very first time I ever drove, I parked about four inches from the curb, parallel to the curb. The teacher was impressed.

I tag all of you. If you don't already have a blog, now is your chance to start one.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

To all of you who are mothers, happy Mother's Day! To all of the rest of you, you'll need to have some kids, wait for father's day, or just wait until some other holiday comes rolling around. Don't fret, the calendar is full of them.

While you are waiting, let me tell you a little about my mom, since it is Mother's Day after all.

My mom started out being a mom earlier than most moms nowadays. By the time she was 23 she had all three of us kids already.

Before she was a mom she had a much younger brother that helped her get ready for doing mom kinds of things. He once asked her (his artistic big sister) to draw him a chicken. Grandma always bought extra chicken legs because the legs were a popular part at the dinner table. So mom drew a chicken with four legs. We always laughed about that.

Mom was pretty cute back in 56!

When I was growing up Mom was always helping other kids, kids that really needed some help. Like Susie from across the street. I'll never forget hearing Susie say, "Mrs. Collier, learn me to cook." Mom helped Derek too. Derek was a kid in my class with a bad bullying problem. I think it was because he was really mad about how little his family had and how messed up his life was. I don't think his dad was around and he lacked discipline in a big way. The poor kid. He was angry, black, and poor in 1966. Mom offered to take him out of class one day so he could let off steam. She offered to take him anywhere he wanted to go. He wanted to see race cars. Back in the day there was a drag racing place in San Jose. Mom took him there. I remember once there were a handful of neighbor kids in the kitchen making paper mache puppets with mom.

Then a lot of time went by.

We all grew up and everyone moved out of the house and Dad passed away. Mom had moved far to the north. We didn't see each other very much at all. We still don't.

That's all for now. I'll finish the story later.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Build Gates

It took all day but I went from two posts 87-7/8 inches apart and three sixteen foot pressure treated 2x4s to these nifty gates, sans grape stakes. The first picture is the plan.

As you can see, the yard behind is still littered with junk. And no, the gates do not have an umbrella coming up from the middle. That's just the way the shot got framed.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Ex Post Facto

When we put the pool in I built a fence around it. Twelve years later I decided it needed to be changed. Apparently when I put in the posts I used lots of concrete. Stupid twit. So I had to take out six posts. Ladies, this is way effing harder than frogging the last twenty rows. Anyway, the first post came out with a huge amount of huffing and puffing, a splintered post, and a pile of concrete crumbs. The second one was better, but still involved a sledgehammer and LOTS of sweating. On the third one I made a contraption using a hydraulic jack to lift the post out a little bit at a time. That was better, but still took a long time and involved lots of kneeling on the ground and bending over awkwardly. On the fourth one I used the same contraption but I put the rig up on some sawhorses. This was better yet, but still took a long time. The stroke of the jack (stop giggling) was largely taken up in bending all the parts and the lifting effect was limited by the lever arm of the contraption...

So today for post #5 and #6 I used a more direct lifting method which you see here. This is post #6, where I had finally perfected my kludge:

After Andy saw this he said, you need an engine hoist.