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. I'm even satisfied with the girl I've been seeing for over a year, despite having different goals or needs or ideals or whatever. 

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?

Saturday, December 31, 2016

American flag compliance

Post title sounds important, huh? Well, maybe it is. 

Flying a flag does come with responsibilities.


  • The flag should not be dipped to any person or thing.
  • It should never be displayed with the union down, save as a signal of dire distress.
  • It should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.
  • It should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.
  • It should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored so that it might be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.
  • It should never be used as covering for a ceiling.
  • It should never have anything placed on it.
  • The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose, nor embroidered on cushions or handkerchiefs, printed on paper napkins or boxes, nor used as any portion of a costume.
  • When the flag is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem, it should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.
Since I made my pallet flag, I've been violating some of the rules. Mostly the illumination rule, which you don't see here. So I set out to change that.
I made a bracket to mount it to the wall, so it's not leaning against the wall anymore. You can see the bottom had a base on it to keep it up off of the ground already, but now snow removal will be more fun.
Cost: 1 pallet board, 4 screws, some paint, water, time and electricity.
I bought 2 rolls of LED lights, from ebay. Cost for a 16.4' roll was about $5. There's an LED about every inch, and you can cut it every 3 leds. (Tired of capitalizing the led.) These are coated with a soft rubbery stuff, seems a lot like silicone, billed as "waterproof". 
Cost for this project? $1

The pallet is 40" square, and I built a bracket to hold the lights just above and in front of the flag. I painted the inside of the bracket white to reflect the light and the outside black to blend with the rest of the flag. Clashes with the garage, though. OH well. The LED strip is 34 or 5 or 6, something like that, and has pretty good tape on the back. Of course, soldering the wires onto the strip destroys the tape for the first little way, and if you don't use a mechanical cable holder on the wire you solder onto the strip, the weight of it will pull it off. Curious as to how I know this???
Cost: one pallet board, 2 screws, a staple, paint, time, electricity, etc. The wire I got from a dumpster. 

Right now it's powered by a "wall wart" transformer. Curiously, the leds will work on a variety of voltages, the pkg says it wants 12, but they work fine on 9, also. I meant to look to see if a 9 volt battery will light a strip for any length of time.  Anyway. Right now there's just wire nuts connecting the wall wart to the strip. I'll drill a hole thru for the wire and then it might get interesting. See.....the garage door opener has a circuit on it that runs to the switch by the door....and that is approx 12 volts. So I'll probably wait until a warmish day and tap into that to power the light. 
Cost: more wire. Dumpster wire, of course. 
The flag is illuminated all the way down, but not so well that the phone camera can see it. The light is on day and night. I can buy a photocell that will turn it off during the day, cost of about 3 dollars...and I may do that, but the strip only uses about 6 watts, I think. It'll take a long time to use $3 worth of electricity, I think. 

Happy New Year

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Lazy. Kinda sick. malaise?

I'm less than an inch into my old fashioned and I'm not too sure what malaise is. But I'm certain that I have some.

Yeah, kinda sick. On Friday, I soldered on a stained glass panel and after that, way back in my throat it hurt to swallow. Coincidence? Not sure. I soldered an entire panel on Sunday, dripping snot on it. Hey, sometimes you can't take time to wipe the nose. Monday a little worse, very snotty, went thru quite a few tissues. Tissues made of the same stuff as gas station toilet paper....the stuff that sands the "residue" off your rump. 

Not drunk enough to go all out on that description....but tempting.

BTW, I modified a baked oatmeal recipe, and had some for supper. (spell check says "sof" does not spell "for)(spell check is correct)(fingers are not always following orders) Modifications included adding dried cranberries (craisins) and a few lumps of orange that I didn't eat or put into my Old Fashioned. (Yes, it deserves capitalization now.) I should have thought of the orange addition sooner so it could have cooked in a little more, but it was still good. And BTW, I put in the rind, too. Hey, it's full of essential oils. I'd post a pic, but I already ate the oatmeals and the Old Fashioned looks a little unpleasant, if I'm honest. I muddle the hell out of that orange.......

I made my muddler, of course. It was part of a pallet, or skid, and there is a difference. If you want to know the difference, just ask. Anyway, it's white wood, a hardwood, but pretty plain. Might be poplar.....I really don't know.

Today started off worse than Monday; very coughy. I only ate one cough drop, though, because I would sort of pay attention to myself and before a coughing fit, I'd take a big deep breath. And I'd hold it awhile. It helped, I didn't cough near as much, which is good since it seemed as if I could taste some bloood. That's not a flavor profile I much like. Too coppery, like licking electrical wire. 

I have not actually licked electrical wire. I might have held some in my teeth or stripped some very small wire with my teeth in the past. This bloggy is getting confusing.

But as soon as I figured that out, I got to feeling better. Much less snotty, I only sneezed a few times and blew just a few more times than that. And as previously mentioned, only 1 cough drop. 

Is it allergic reaction to the solder/flux fumes?? I don't know. I'll be sure to use a fan next time to test that hypothesis. 

Lazy. Yes, lazy. I've got work to do in the basement. I've got work to do in the kitchen. But what am I doing? Watching Utube videos and tapping this bloggy. I sat and watched videos all last night too.  During my daytime breaks I have worked on a gift, which I'm not going to talk about because the recipient may actually read the bloggy thing. 

Can you imagine?

Oh, I suppose you might. LOL

Malaise. Holy crap: 

Malaise | Definition of Malaise by Merriam-Webster
1 : an indefinite feeling of debility or lack of health often indicative of or accompanying the onset of an illness. 2 : a vague sense of mental or moral ill-being <a malaise of cynicism and despair — Malcolm Boyd>

Yup, I guess wait, what the hell happened to the font. That's better. Yeah, I guess I do know what it means.

Someone said to me: "It's Christmas week......"

And I thought, "yeah, so?" I don't even know what Christmas means, anymore. And so then I think about fun stuff, like the meaning of life, and my contribution to society, or lack thereof. 

And then I come home and eat oatmeal and drink Wild Turkey 101, BTW, the bottle is empty, and a fresh new one would make a great gift. It'd be nice if someone would come over right now and fetch me a couple ice cubes. But since I'm flexible and the door is locked, I'll manage.

Is it normal to feel your pulse in your head after some drink? Hmmmmmm

I found an ice cube in my cup of water. Original storage location, don't you think? Next I'll be putting them in my segmented parts storage bins. 

Actually, I won't because I think I remain somewhat logical even after a big slug of bourbon. I'm not driving anywhere, though. Either? Whichever is more appropriate. 

Pretty sure I know what's actually causing my malaise, but I don't know what I'll do about it.

Crash update? sure. Nothing. 

That's right. nothing. I got a bill. But UWhealth says nothing has been paid, but nothing is due.  It's very rare that I have a bit O dizzy, my elbow remains the same. I don't really notice anything with anything else....unless I look at my toes in the light, and I see that my toenail is still a bit purple.  My hands still have scars. I don't notice the sharp pain in the belly when I sneeze now, guess I've had enough practice. *shrug*

See how trendy I can be? J/K