Twiddling my thumbs!

Twiddling my thumbs!
Just twiddling my thumbs!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

...and he's back! Sort of.

Long, long lapse in posts due to many mitigating circumstances.

This is the third computer since the last post.
I decided to save some money when WinXp went out of favor by converting the machine to Ubuntu Linux. I discovered that Linux is a tinkerers paradise. Sadly, it's not the kind of tinkering I'm best at. Eventually, I got it to a condition I could live with.

Earlier this summer, M'lady and I took a weekend holiday up in Glenwood Springs.

We had a fine time. I collected my first speeding ticket in the Miata, 83 in a 65. Met up with some friends and drank good whiskey and soaked in the pool. Came back through Aspen and over Independence Pass. Had a picnic. Life is good.

We get back and we have a mystery; there's debris from the tree all over the backyard. We begin imagining scenarios involving mating racoons when we find the burned end of the phone line that corresponds to where it was touching the tree. The box mounted to the side of the house is barely attached and looks like it exploded. Lightning has struck somewhere very close, but fortunately, not the house.

In the end the losses were two computers, one cable modem, one answering machine, the sprinkler control box, and our peace of mind.

The cable was back up in two days. The phones were out for a week and a half.

This happened on M'ladys birthday that ends with "0".
Not that we're superstitious or paranoid or anything.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Time of Many Changes

The past two months have brought many changes to my life, the least of which is converting my old XP machine to Ubuntu, a user-friendly Linux. The important things like documents and photographs were easy. It took a couple of weeks to get the sound to work; I'm not happy with the fix, but I'm not going to knock success. The trackball is crippled, there are fixes out there but I'm tired of fighting computers and it works well enough. I got a refurbished machine for the shop running Win 8 that presents a completely different set of problems and frustration. Add to that a new version of QuickBooks and I feel like if I can remember my name, I'm doing well.
 Somewhere along the line I broke the tip off of one of the good kitchen knives.
It's good to know how to do stuff. I tried to take as little metal off as possible, so the drop to the point is a little steeper.
Working on knives gets me inspired to want to make a Fairbairn-Sykes style knife.
There are several examples of "field made" knives that I really can't resist trying one myself.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


One of my pet peeves is the way chapstick is packaged. It is sold by weight, but the design is such that you can't get at the last bit of it. There is a small cup that is threaded so that it moves up and down when you twist the bottom. If the cup were turned open side down, all of the product would be accessible. For me, that little cup full is several weeks worth of lip balm. So I've been saving them in hopes of some inspiration in extraction. 
I own a heat lamp, so I figured that applying a little heat might do the trick. I can remove the little pink cup from "empty" tubes, so I position one on top of another tube and put it under the heat lamp. Then several people and many distractions arrive. Finally, an hour and a half later, this is what I find. The pink stuff at the top is what's left of the two pink cups, the lip balm was a puddle on the bench.
Note to self; set a timer next time.
Curiously enough, my smart phone has such a function, if only I would remember.
Second attempt of five minutes worked like a charm. I made a heat shield out of some gold mylar, but I don't think it mattered.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Worn out things

So I have this issue with things that wear out unevenly. Things that are otherwise in good shape but are rendered unusable because a crucial feature is worn. Take this snow shovel; light weight, sturdy, and the working edge gone.
Sort through the stock room and find some pieces of stainless steel. The new working edge is .060" and the back plate is .090.

You can see some of the old edge here. The cutouts were made on the bandsaw and are what's left of the original stiffening ribs.
It works pretty well but wants to bite deeper than it did. Gets under ice really well!

Next up was this ice scraper my son gave me. I like it because it will extend out so I can clean the truck windshield without over reaching. I've seen brass ice scrapers and had heard that they work well and won't scratch the glass, so...

Put an edge on it to come close to the original angle.  The plastic was thick enough that I didn't feel the need to have a back up plate.

It goes through ice on the windshield so easily that I almost feel guilty when I hear my neighbors scraping, and scraping. Almost.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Worlds Most Expensive Shelves-assembly and finish!

So, the very first thing was to clean the years of
accumulated crud plus smoke residue off of the
shelves. They were REALLY dirty!
Then we set up the workmates, boxes of hardware, tools and uprights. I put the feet on the uprights as soon as the paint was dry. I had a square handy, but there was surprisingly little tendency to become a parallelogram. Eight screws, nuts, and lock washers on each shelf. I had flat washers, but there wasn't room to put them on.
The finished product! I have three 5 shelf units and one 2 shelf unit. Very sturdy!
Total cost; maybe $100 in materials and five years agonizing over the process.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Walking on the Moon!

I've been suffering with plantar fasciitis for a little over a year now and finally decided to see the doctor. I'd been avoiding this because I know that there is very little that can be done beyond what I am already doing, icing and stretching. No surprises from the doctor except the recommendation to try custom insoles. He gave me the name of the guy he went to, heck of a recommendation IMHO! Anyway, the end result is I can walk again without pain! A couple of weeks later I'm at the cardiologist for my one year surgical follow up; I'm fine, moo, and I'm telling the nurse about how much walking I've been doing. So she gives me a pedometer.  This is not a high end unit, but a cheap chinese piece they have been giving away as part of their 10,000 steps a day campaign. Cool. First day I notice that it keeps resetting to zero, not useful  for counting steps. Instructions say that it holds the data when it powers down after two minutes. WTF! Further testing reveals that I'm hitting the reset button inadvertently, probably when I sit. The reset button is very tall for the size of the unit, so I decided that some kind of guard might be the ticket. I started sketching up a full cover but decided that that was a bit over the top. Looking at the thing and visualizing what it was I was trying to accomplish I started looking for a washer of an appropriate size. After a little belt sanding and a drop of super glue, we have what I think will work. Testing is in progress. Results are favorable.
Although it worked for awhile, it would still reset at random. Then I broke the clip off and decided that I had devoted entirely too much energy to this.

One a side note; the reason it's been so long since the last post is that I've not been able to get this picture from my phone to here. It's my lie, and I'm sticking with it.  Solved the problem by plugging the phone into the computer.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


I'm very fond of the Workmate portable workbench, I own three of them. I was skeptical of them right up to the moment I put my hands on one and gave it a shake. I was an instant convert. My first one was bought new for full retail as an effort to buy something worthwhile with some birthday money.  The second one was free, found abandoned and given a new home.  The third one I bought at a garage sale and was a bit of a disappointment; it's about an inch taller than the other two. WTF Black & Decker?  It's a newer model but I never would have believed changing that basic dimension.
The bad news is that they have parts that wear out; the good news is that you can still buy replacement parts. my infinite spare time I have finally gotten around to installing the replacement parts!

Over here we have the newer unit supporting the one
being worked on. Since the new one is a different height than the other two, it has been moved to the house to serve for home-based projects. One of the accessories I have made is a table top that can be clamped into the Workmate, it's surprisingly sturdy.
 This is the one I bought new for full retail many years ago.  It was stored next to the catbox for many years.  One of the reasons it has taken me so long to fixing it is me not wanting to deal with the damage I caused a good tool by my neglect.

A little elbow grease, a wire brush, and some paint!  Almost new!

New parts installed!  Self imposed guilt trip eliminated!  Pigs airborne!