Sunday, September 03, 2017

Recovery, 1 year

It's been a year since my crash in WI, and 6 months or so since I posted an update. There's been no need to post an update, since there's been no change in my condition. 

Recap: I was riding my motorcycle to the Nat'l mustard museum in Middletown WI, when I attempted to pass what I thought was a parked car. Turns out they were turning left. A crash occurred, presenting me with a concussion, brain bleed, 2 broken toes, bunch of broken ribs, some road rash, shoulder and hip pain. Also, some kidney damage, little bit O lung damage, and something else, I can't quite remember what. 

Possibly memory loss? Not sure.  Can't remember. j/k I occasionally struggle to find the right word to say, but I was having that problem before the crash. 

My right toe must have touched down, pulling my leg out and back, causing the broken toes and hip pain. The hip pain went away after just a couple of days. I had a bit of a scuff on my hip, as well. Also scuffed was my right shoulder, and that hurt for a couple weeks. 

I was in the hospital from Sunday until Thursday, and it was a fun ride home. It actually went pretty fast, probably because she drives like a maniac. I slept in my recliner for a while, can't remember just how long, but as soon as I could manage the steps, up to the comfortable bed I went. What a challenge lying down and getting up was. Wow. Dizzy. Ribs. Ouch.

I mowed my lawn, the flat part after 2 weeks recovery and was back to work half time the day after that. Full time (8 hours) work the next week and then regular schedule a couple more weeks later. 

My passengers could tell there was something going on, and a few asked, which was nice...because it seemed as if they actually cared. 

I had some help, and I'd like to thank Lauren, Amanda, Val, Jeff, Karen, Susie, and whoever else helped. A number of people offered to help, and I appreciated that a great deal, even though I may not have communicated it very well. Greg, especially. I couldn't have recovered so quickly without the help from those mentioned above, I hope you know how much I appreciate what you did.   

I'm sure that some people wanted to help, but didn't know what to do. One friend that is a nurse said that she would have helped if I had asked for her help. (dude. you're a nurse. you know...........ah, never mind)  Here's a PSA: if your friend is hurt, you can help....a message helps. A meal helps, a ride, a visit, a card; just knowing/being reassured that you care helps. 

Healing is a long drawn out affair, it takes time obviously, because I'm redundant. This is the PSA continued, btw. Be patient, esp with those that bumped their head. Do continue to check in with the crippled one for months after the incident. We really will appreciate it. 

Everything happens for a reason, right? I crashed because I wasn't paying enough attention to the road and traffic. I survived because of the people that stopped to help. Is it more complicated than that? Are there stronger or stranger forces at work? I don't know. I'm sure that some would say yes, but more would say no. 

Something I've paid a little attention to, in the last year, is the number of "go fund me" pages and benefit rides/events. I think that I shared on one of these, that my bill from the hospital and helicopter was just over $84,000. Those of you that's bad with math: If I had to pay the whole thing, that'd be $100/month for 70 years. I don't intend to live 70 years. No one offered to set up a fund raiser thing, but then....the oBamacare insurance that I complained about came thru and paid my bill. 

I'm sure I'm forgetting something.....if you know what it is, let me know. :)

Friday, April 28, 2017

vehicle service records

Since I'm in the process of selling my 2003 Yamaha RoadStar, I got to thinking about service records.

You know, when did I replace the tire, brakes, oil change, etc.  Of course, none of that matters with the pickup.

What I've done with the bikes, is write it in my pocket calendar. That means, of course, I had to go searching back thru several of them to find the front tire. 

What I did with the pickup, is write the event on the oil filter box lid. This worked really well, actually, using either a pencil or pen: mileage, date, event. I've got at least 3 of them, going back to near the beginning of time. 

Brakes, shocks, adding transmission oil, changing differential oil, clutch, wipers, power steering oil, brake lines, tires, etc.

It's a nearly rhetorical question, since so few comment, but what do you do to keep track of stuff? I'm sure there's online programs, apps, etc. I think I'll stay with the box lid. Maybe not be too stingy with space, write as legibly as possible.

Those that know me well are laughing about that.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Commitments. Or lack thereof

For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, until death us do part. 

This is not about my divorce, that was final 2.5 years ago (already...time flies)(and I'm amazed that some FB friends still don't know, guess they don't pay attention....)
  I confess, I've engaged in clickbait,or sensationalism. You know....provide a sensational or emotional headline to encourage people to click the linky, and once the page finally loads, you find that you have to page down past a metric shit tonne of ads and other BS and click thru 10 pages of that crap to be disappointed in the story that they didn't tell, but promised to tell in the headline.

The story may disappoint you, but I'll tell the story and you won't have to endure 10 pages of ridiculous ads.

Cancer is a horrible thing, isn't it? In this story, I'm not referring to the kind that kills people, pets or relationships; but the kind that everyone that enjoys the kind of commitment that I'm going to talk about has encountered and worked thru or succumbed to. 

Hydrated Iron Oxide. Fe2O3.  

This story begins in April 1999, I was working as maintenance at an apartment complex, my 84 Ranger was wearing out, and not entirely meeting our needs any more. I had a list of pickup requirements: I6 5speed, A/C, etc. I assumed this would provide a combination of reliability, economy and acceptable power. I was wrong. It could all have been worse, but it could have been better, too. If we'd bought the V8 automatic, it'd would have had more power and economy would have been about the same. Reliability? maybe better, maybe worse. 

Zumbrota Ford had it, so we bought it. Offered them less than they were asking, of course, and took out a loan for 8k. So begins my 3rd longest major commitment. I've had many much longer commitments, but only with tools. (1st (longest) major commitment was/is the house, 2nd longest was my marriage.)

Bought the 94F150 and sold the 84 Ranger, which I'd had for about 10 years. So begins the commitment. 

Seems like most people don't keep their vehicles very long. I'd keep this one forever, if I had the shop space and skills to fix it. And the money for the parts. I don't know what people use for rationale to determine when it's time to trade cars. I know some simply can't imagine not having a newish car. That means they have a payment, always. They justify it by saying they never have any repairs. Can't embarrass the kids with an old car...

I can tell this bloggy post is just going to ramble around and not make any sense. 

I think where my original intent was to go is this: People are never satisfied with what they have. I was thinking about this the other day, and started analyzing my life with that in mind.  Perhaps more on this later.

People really don't (or) don't really commit to things. How many people do you know that built their "barbie dream house" 5 years ago and are now building another? Or moved into their dream house and are moving again. Or those people that keep changing jobs. As soon as it needs some repairs or has a little rust it's time for a new one. 

I dunno, maybe that's ok. But maybe it's not. I wonder how much debt those people are carrying. If they just keep adding the old debt to the new debt, if the trade from the old car didn't pay off the loan, just add that to the new loan. New couch? Credit card! I digress, if that's even possible. 

For the record...other than the house loan, I have no debt. 

My 94F150 had 76k miles when we bought. It now has 137k. The transmission leaks, the differential is going bad, it has broken springs, some suspension brackets are perforated by rust. . The fenders are rusted thru, the cab floor is rusted thru, and the clutch has broken springs. The horn doesn't work, the cruise control doesn't work, either. The topper is still excellent, as is the hood and engine. The doors are pretty good, the seat is fine. 

For the past several years, I've put a post on FB announcing every April that I renewed my commitment and paid the license fee/tax. I'm not doing that this year. It's $51, and I'm spending that on a different pickup this year. 

I'm going to sell the tires to a coworker and the rest of it to the tow shop across the street. They have a couple tow trucks that are about the same age but aren't rusty (how can that be??)....I heard the mechanic say something about a wiring harness and I know they'll put the seat in one. It'll be a donor, sacrificing itself to ensure others live on. 

Back to being satisfied....I said I'd keep the pickup if it wasn't so rusty. As an has a sticker on it that says "Northland edition"...clearly that doesn't mean "rust protection/rust proof". It has met my needs for 15 or so of the 18 years I've had it. I'm happy with my car, my house, my cat, my job (most days), my computer, my phone (almost 4 years old), my shop tools, etc and so on. 

If it's not broken, don't fix it. If the item is meeting your needs, don't replace it. 

Leave a long do you keep your car, your house, your phone, etc, and why do you change?

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Recovery, week 23 or so

I'm so frustrated irritated and pissed off with the clinic, the pharmacy and insurance that I am inclined to just quit taking the damn pills and sedan how long I survive. Fuck it.

That, of course, was my FB status today. Irrational overreacting, to be sure....and maybe I learned a little or realized something? I doubt I will articulate it here, but I will attempt it. 

It started in October, when I found out that my employer was finally offering health insurance. Yes they are cheap ungrateful bastards. I don't know if it's a good policy or not, actually. I tried to figure it out, but wasn't able to. 

What irritates me is that health care costs so much that we have to have insurance to pay for it. If they'd just charge a modest profit instead of accumulating billions of dollars excess....

But I digress.

Ok, so as soon as I got the insurance card, I should have ran down to the pharmacy (and I probably could actually run that far)(I'd have to collapse in a heap to recover when I got there, though) but I didn't. Wanted to be sure to use up the insurance I had first, in case the coverage was better. Dumb. But that really doesn't matter to the story.

Last week, I stopped in, let the little dude do his thing with my card, and came home to figure out how to get the Rx to the new pharmacy. I think I have to use a different pharmacy, don't I? If so, then why did I stop at the old one? Just in case? I guess.

So today, I pick up the phone and call the number on the card. All it was was a bunch of offers from different sponsors or advertisers. About 40 of them.  Call the other number. I get frustrated with automated voice things. They never understand what I try to tell it, possibly because I can't refrain from swearing at it. The fuckers.  Finally get a dude on the phone, and it wasn't Jake from State Farm, and he did speak English, and sounded like he was in America. I had high hopes. I generally give up half way thru the options and start pressing 0, since I can't pay enough attention or understand or process what it's saying quickly enough. 

So, dude. How do I get Rx.  Blah blah blah blah. Clearly, he thinks I'm stupid, and it is a stupid question. But I can't figure out the answer. Finally get some things figured out, like call the doctor, and give him a credit card. 

Call the doctor. HA good luck with that one, I'm already irritated and feeling dumb as a rotten post when I call the clinic. Clearly I called the wrong number. But notice that they always just transfer instead of saying: you should call this number next time....

Nurse dude couldn't be bothered to help much, kept saying that my pharmacy would ONE TIME ONLY send my Rx to the new pharmacy. And I'm thinking: you have it, why don't you send it, you lazy bastard? Why would the old pharmacy send it? They don't want to lose business.....

Never mind about the next call; it was short and a waste of Verizon minutes.

What I learned from this, or realized. I may not be fully recovered from the concussion. I see 2 issues. Memory/cognitive ability and irrationalness. 

I can't remember if the insurance co sent a packet of information to tell me about the pharmacy or not. And if they did, where did I put it?  I don't remember what I did last year to get Rx to the new pharmacy, or the year before that. (I think it's been 3 years since I lost mayo insurance.)(If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor. HA) 

It seems like more and more when there is putering or phone stuff to do, I'm less able to handle it, and that is frustrating. Because I can figure out other stuff very well.

For example, how to make George purr. Or how to make this: 

But I don't remember recipes, or where I put stuff, or directions to somewhere. 
But I've always been bad at directions....Sometimes. Sometimes I have no problem with them. And it's frustrating that I don't know why.

I've been irrationally emotional for a while now, but I'm pretty sure I can't afford the doctor bills to find out why. (If they even could find out why.) But maybe I can't afford to not find out, also. 

My ears work pretty well. I hear all sorts of conversations in the bus, and usually there's no problem talking on the phone. But when I start talking insurance or money or a few other things, like mentioned above, either I can't pay attention, or maybe trying to translate the words into a format that I recognize takes too long and I can't keep up. 

The doctor gives instructions, but 5 minutes later I don't know what I was supposed to do next. Or when. 

Makes me feel pretty stupid....and that never goes well. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Drill battery refresh

Cordless drill batteries. Generally you can buy a new drill with 2 batteries and a charger for less than buying a new battery, and that's just wrong....

My first cordless drill: Wen, 9.6volt, not variable speed. Battery didn't last all that long, but we knew a guy that worked at Battery Plus, and he put in new cells for me. Those didn't last long, either.

2nd: Craftsman 13.2v. This was a good drill, and I used it a lot, till the batteries started failing. It was really long, from chuck to the end of the drill, so it didn't get into very small places. Plus it didn't stand up on the battery like most do now, but it was still balanced pretty well.

3rd Milwaukee 18v. Got this used, had a 1/2" chuck, which had a broken jaw, which really didn't affect it. It was also a good drill, and I'd be rebuilding the batteries for it, but it got stolen out of the garage.

4th Makita 12v. NiHd Good drill, bad batteries. I bought a set of NiCd from ebay a few years ago instead of rebuilding the battery packs. Seems like one of those batteries was not working right, but maybe giving it some love and threats has brought it back. Old and new:

5th Rockwell 12v lithium impact driver. Not a drill, exactly, but a driver. Was AWESOME but was stolen from the garage along with the Milwaukee. The lithium lasted nearly forever and would drive a lot of screws. Charged fast, too.

6th 12V Masterforce Menards brand  lithium drill/impact kit. These are awesome, too. I think I bought them when the Makita was not cooperating, and I said "I'm not buying more batteries for that POS". Got the kit on sale and a rebate, too, was quite cheap. Small, lightweight, has lights and works great.

I bought enough 2200mh batteries from ebay to rebuild the 2 Makitas, 1 Crapsman, and the Wen. My plan is to put one in the garage, and carry one in the car in case I find something in a dumpster that needs to be taken apart before I take it home.

The interesting/irritating thing about these batteries....Well, a couple things. The new batteries, the green ones have tabs already applied to them, pointing the same direction, with a piece of heat shrink tube on them. That has to be cut off. The tabs never need to go the same direction. But some patience and it comes together.

The other thing? The old batteries still hold a charge and seem to work. I don't have a real method to test them, to see how long or how much charge they hold....but they work well enough to power some LED lights for testing.

Drill needs new batteries? Bring it over, I'll help you fix it up.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Vibrating egg repair

Yes, the title is accurate. If you're not a fan of "pink" or are afraid to see a sex type toy opened up displaying the innards, then look away. These things have been hanging around my basement WAY too long, it's time to figure out if they are fixable or not.

My FB status was funny, I thought, even though it didn't get much attention. Several people liked it and then unliked it. And a few commented:
Friends, answer honestly. (This is a safe place, I've got a big pack of safety pins) Have you ever wondered what's inside a vibrating egg?
 One hyperglycemic chick.
UnlikeReply1Yesterday at 10:58Edited
I always assumed Mexican jumping beans.
 Two ninjas fighting?

I opened one up. It took some work to do, it was well sealed. It's probably actually a "bullet", connected with wires to a battery pack and switch. There's quite a lot of variety in that switch, must be a circuit board in there. But since that works fine, the egg must be the problem. First, I split it via the seam in the middle, around the circumference, but it would not open, so hacking it longitudinally  got it open. All that's inside:
A little bitty motor with a weight on the shaft that is off center, to make it unbalanced. 

Shaft. LOL

I connected the motor to a 6 volt battery and it didn't turn. I couldn't get the shaft to turn at all, so I took it apart too....but alas, no pics. the case held onto the 2 magnets. and the wires were only connected to the plastic end cap, which had 2 copper pieces which went over the end of the shaft. Once the end cap came off, the shaft turned easily, but when put back on, still didn't run. Recycle bin for the motor, trash for the egg, it's only plastic.

The other was more fun, more exciting and more fulfilling. And it's PINK. I don't even remember where this one came from, it's been lying down there for a long time....long enough for the battery to leak. :( 

The youtube video I watched the other day came in handy: how to fix electronics when a battery leaks.

Clean it up with vinegar. Wash off the vinegar. Resolder the broken wires. Yes, it had broken wires, too. The wire going from the battery pack to the circuit board was broken. A wire to the motor was broken. The wire that looks like a loop to pull it out was broken off. Turns out that has another function: antennae for the remote control. It has a couple knots in it to keep it from coming loose from the case, so use in confidence that it won't come back. LOL

OH, if you have to have to do more cleaning on those rivet battery terminals than just the vinegar. Scrape them to shiny metal before trying to solder them. 
I wound up replacing the wires from the battery to the board. And yes, those are Harbor Freight batteries. They test at nearly 2 volts.  The motor size is much different....a lot smaller here, but seems to work sufficiently well.  

I tried to count how many different settings this thing has, but after about 8 I get lost, or impatient, or confused. Pink has that effect on me.  There's a little gasket on the threaded part of the egg, and it has very fine careful with those....I'd think you'd want it to remain water proof.

This was a fun project...and I learned a few things, too.

Monday, January 02, 2017

New Year holiday project

This year's holiday project is a headboard for my upstairs bedroom. I have a 1950 1 1/2 story house; it's a huge room, compared to the size of the other rooms of the house (other than the living room) and since it's a 1 1/2 story, I have slanted ceiling and knee walls.  The bed goes up against the knee wall, which is about 45". The bed being 29" doesn't allow for sitting up against the wall/headboard, but what the hell, I'm building one anyway. 

Pallet wood, of course. I found a couple of pallets that were 7' wide, 1x6 boards. I did consider making it wide enough for a King sized bed, should I decide to buy one of that size when I buy a new bed. Then I remembered how much fun it is to get the queen sized mattress up the stairs and....considered the cost of buying all new sheets, and built the thing queen sized. 

Found something fun in one of the boards: 

Look at that....I can put the pics side by side to take up less space. I didn't spend too long analyzing the wood, just found the anomaly to be interesting. I cut the smaller piece off the bigger piece, and nailed it onto my project. I really like the look of the heartwood/sapwood and knot. 

I built the frame of the thing from 2x4, using pocket holes/screws. Screwed the boards to the frame, sanded, stained and varnished. I plan to add LEDs to it, when they arrive. I still have some, but what I have are waterproof and what are coming are not. I don't think I need waterproof LEDs on my headboard...and I'll refrain from making suggestive comments or innuendos. 
Cost: 16 1 5/8" screws, 8 2 1/2" pocket screws, 1 stain brush, 1 varnish brush, electricity. 

The stain I got free, from when I worked at the paint store. When we'd match stain for a customer, we'd start with the closest colour and add the various tints to make it match. Of course, sometimes you need more space in the can, so we'd dip some stain out before starting, and put it into a bucket.....and when that bucket was full, I saved it because the colour was good. That was more than 20 years ago.

The varnish I get free from the county recycle center, people drop off unwanted paint or chemicals, the county gives it away...just stop in and pick up what you want from what they have. I've gotten stain, varnish, spray lacquer, contact cement, paint, paint thinner, and I've not taken lots more stuff that I don't garden chemicals, etc.

I use cheap "chip brushes", available at Menard's, the paint store and even Harbor Freight. They are a natural bristle brush, and I only use them for oil based stuff, throwing them into my scrap bin when I'm done with them. If I have another project coming up soon that needs varnish, I'll wrap it with plastic and put it in the freezer, and sometimes the stain brush can be reused several times. 

Lots of people think the foam brush gives good results, but they get torn up very quickly on these pallet boards. And, they don't give good results with varnish, and lacquer dissolves them. Fun to watch....but not helpful with a project. 

I recall from the paint store lots of people complaining about getting a poor looking finish. There's lots of variables. But you can get a decent finish with a cheap brush....Here's a few do and don't do suggestions. 

  • Don't scrape the brush across the top of the can. The best way to remove excess paint or varnish from the brush is to tap the sides of the can with the loaded brush. Obviously you can only do this once the can isn't full. When the can is full, I just let it drip a bit before moving it to the project.
  • Don't brush too fast or "overbrush". Making lots of short fast strokes is never good (with varnish). Long slow smooth strokes is the way to go.
  • Keep the brush at a shallow angle to the project, most of the time. At the very end, you can hold it at 90* barely touching the surface.
  • Keep a light at the end of the item, so you can look down the surface to see if you missed a spot, if there's a place where you put on too much, if a hair came out of the brush, etc. 
  • DON'T shake varnish. Don't stir gloss varnish. Stir satin gently, and only as much as it needs. Much like making pancakes or biscuits.
  • Do keep a wet edge. Meaning: if you have a long board or several long boards, do the length of the board instead of just what you can reach. This is more important when staining a deck in the hot sun, rather than varnishing in a cool basement. can wind up with shiny spots or dark spots or visible thicker spots, or faded spots once the paint on the south side of your shed fades.
I generally put on a coat of gloss spar varnish, for a couple reasons. I like the colour of's got more of an amber colour, which gives the project a rich finish. Gloss, because you usually put on a couple coats, right? Satin has flatteners in it, which build up and look like dull plastic, because that's what it is. A couple coats of gloss, sanded and a coat of satin gives it a great finish. Trust me. 

2nd coat of Pratt and Lambert spar varnish, and my stain brush and varnish brush. Looks like I missed a spot on that 2nd board from the right. :( Even though I looked down the board at the lights at the other end of the basement. Several times.

Comments, questions, suggestions?