Thursday, October 08, 2015

Birthday. Suck.

Lots of people love their birthday. They have lots of fun, they party, they go around smiling all day. Not me. Oh I know, I don't go around smiling any day. But I look forward to birthdays kinda like people look forward to colonoscopies. And root canals. 

Why? Maybe I'm a grumpy bastard, maybe I expect too much. This year I didn't expect anything, and almost got less. If it weren't for the passenger that gave me a rice krispy bar, the day would have totally sucked. 

I can think of a few birthdays that were good. I recall one year riding my motorcycle all around, and then going to dinner with some friends. That was nice...Val had arranged a good group. I think I remember our first year I surprised her by showing up, we went to the rochesterfest parade.

I only remember having one bday party growing up, had it at Bibbons Park. I don't remember who was there, but I do remember who didn't come. This should have been a clue for the rest of my life. 

Focus on the bad, disregard the good.

I remember having to share my bday with my cousin, since she had the misfortune of being born the same day. Must have been kind of like being twins, even though she was several years older. What the fuck is the fun of holding someone down and tickling them? It's goddamn torture, is what it is. Thanks a lot you fucking cousins.

I turned 21, went to Casey's and bought a 6pack of beer. Went to where Dad worked, and gave him one. He says "oh, is it your bday?" 

I turned 30, had to clean a fridge at the apt complex. It had been w/o power for 3 weeks, full of what used to be food. No hot water. The manager says "why don't you just move it to the office and plug it in, you can't throw away her property". 

what a fucking idiot

Facebook is great, though, huh? More than 100 people have sent a happy birthday greeting. I think a lot of them are sincere, too. Since I send almost everyone on my friends list one, I kinda wonder if it's just retribution. Half of them say "enjoy the day", kind like a command. Maybe that's the problem...I tend to do the opposite if possible. Sure as hell managed that today. 

Maybe I should take the day off and do whatever I want to do. The problem is that I cannot do what I want to do. And I'm not going to talk about that right now.

I wrote this on my birthday, but didn't post it. I don't remember why, probably because I'd been drinking heavily. Why post it now? Ah, WTF. 

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

94 F150 update

F150 update. Or getting ready for winter again. 

Yes, I do believe I remember saying a few years ago I'm not sure how long this thing will last. Well, I might or might not have mentioned that in January 2014, I bought a Subaru, so the poor old rusty pickup doesn't get much action any more....and it seemed to kinda like that.  

Did I mention I got a couple more jobs? Yeah, in January. So anyway, in February I had to work 2 or 3 of them on the same day, which means I needed one car to go north and the other to go south. Cold day. holy hell.....and the pickup didn't start to go north to the bus barn, so I put the charger on it. 

Cut me some slack, ok? The battery is old. (Dec 2007)I had not started it for about a month or 6 weeks. But 3 hours on the charger had it going. I had to do this 2 job thing for about 2 weeks, and mid way thru the 2nd week, this happened: 

That is a front wheel brake line. I wound up replacing all the brake lines on the front of the pickup, then couldn't get the bleeder screws loose to bleed them. I hired CSC, the towing and repair shop across the street to take care of it, which they did for $40.

In August, I see a puddle under the poor pickup....power steering oil. I don't have time to fix it, so I toss the keys to CSC again, and they guy replaces one hose. BTW, there are 2 hoses, and they are the same age. I'm not sure why he didn't put on both. Because it's leaking again, or still. 

Anyway, the point is I was going to change the oil, which I have not done for 2 years, because I've only driven it about 1700 miles in those 2 years. I plan to replace the wiper blades, fill the transmission and check the differential. I also plan to hook up a battery tender to it, so I can keep the battery charged, since it's still old. 

Cause when I need it.....I NEED it. 

edit and update again. LOL. Oil changed, transmission checked, winter air installed in the tires, including the spare, coolant topped off (where does that stuff go?) and windshield washer juice filled. 

I know, the pic kind of doesn't really show what is going on. that plastic tab broke off the reservoir, it holds that side of the tank to the pickup. I wrapped a long wire around the tank and gave it some twists to hold it tight. It's not a critical thing. 

I generally buy oil at fleet farm, in the 2 gallon jug. I did some math once and found it's pretty much the same price to buy it that way vs the 5 gallon bucket, and much easier. Easier still, but more wasteful is the quarts, or a 4 or 5 qt jug, but the cost is not the same....usually by the qt is the most expensive option, and then you have all those little bottles hanging around. 

I have bought oil for my motorcycle by the 5 gallon bucket, because there's been a great rebate on it. I'll pour a gallon from the bucket into a gallon jug, on the bench. I'm sure there's an easier way, and maybe I should look for a pump to install in the bucket. then I can just take the bucket to the bike, pump it full, be done with it, get rid of the gallon jugs. Hmmmmmmmm

Monday, April 20, 2015

From pallet to booze shelf in 3 easy steps.

Do you ever visit those "crap for sale" on facebook? I think Rochester has 14 of them in various forms. A friend and constant reader saw a wine bottle shelf for sale on one and "liked it".

So I says: dude, if you want one, I can make one cheaper than that. 

I was wrong about that, but I sold it to her at that price anyway.

Spoiler: it's way more than 3 steps, and not many of them are easy.

1. find a pallet
2. get it home
3. disassemble
4. sand
5, add bottom shelf so bottles don't fall out
6. add extension blocks for glasses shelf
7. measure, mark and cut shelf for glasses
8. stain
9. varnish
10. do all the other things you forgot to do before:
such as...
  1. add screws to mounting board
  2. drill mounting holes
  3. make sure all boards are secure, remove extra/bent/broken nails

It's not hard to find pallets. The trick is to find them with good character. Colour, contrast, just broken enough but not too broken. I've glued lots of boards back together. 
Where do I find them? Often, the plumbing company across the street leaves them out on Monday I walk across the street, pick up 2 and carry them home. Or the lawn mower/small engine place a mile away, or the electrician down from the mower place, or construction sites, etc. A hundred other the bed store, along the highway, Northern Tool, KMart....

FYI pallets are a great source of free lumber, but it is not really free. It takes a lot of work to disassemble the things, and it uses up sanding discs much faster than fresh clean wood. It's harder on router bits, saw blades, gloves. It takes more glue, more varnish, more stain. 

I found plans for a dis-assembly tool, called the Pallet Pal, made by Izzy Swan. I'll be honest, when I first saw the guy, I thought WTF? What the hell kind of name is that? But he probably didn't choose the name, and he's creative and smart as hell, so I'm jealous. I bought the plans he had for sale and built a pallet pal, and it works pretty good. The plans only contained one error that I noticed, I suggest you check his site for all sorts of fun stuff.  I made this from yellow pine, which I got from the plumber's dumpster. It came from loads of pvc pipe, the groove in the wood is used to hold the banding that secures the pvc.
Sand it. I generally just use 80, sometimes 100. Very rarely 120. We just need to take off the worst of the dirt and roughness, and splinters, etc. We really don't want it to be really smooth, or have uniform colouring. Stain it if you so desire. 

Nail in or on a board to keep the bottles in. the bottom of it should be stained, and maybe the edges too.

Measure, mark and cut the slots for the glasses, stain it too. When all the stain is dry, put on a couple coats of varnish. I generally prefer a coat of gloss and a coat of satin. On some projects I just use one coat, but I know that I won't be doing much dusting of it, and I'm not too fussy. I always brush these, it'd take way too many coats of the spray to be enough.
 on the right is the 2nd one I made, on the left is big enough for 2l pop or the big liquor bottles.
 this one is pictured below, the before pic
 used biscuits to mount the glasses shelf
 the little is totally customized, at only 24", 6 slots. All wood came from pallets

 dropped it, had to disassemble and repair before delivery
 drilled hole in wrong spot. turned the plug on the lathe and glued it in. next pic is same board but sanded.

 after pic of the very rustic pictured above

shop cat

If you desire such a shelf, of any dimensions, and BTW, I'm working on one that will be 7' long, please do contact me.

A list of songs that I've come to dislike and re-like in the past couple of months

In no particular order:

1. Boston: Amanda
2. Passenger: Let her go
3. Asia: Only Time will Tell
4. Scorpions: Still loving You
5. Cars: why can't I have you

3 of these I've known since the 80's, but never looked at the lyrics...and my ears don't hear them until I've read them. Make sense? 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

2000 International Blue Bird School bus review

Nothing typed here should be construed as a complaint regarding the shop or mechanics.

I know, out of character for me to start with a disclaimer, but once when I was in the shop and I had a weird conversation with one of the mechanics.  I'm not going to recount that, suffice to say that it was weird. Really really weird.

I had this bus for 5.5 school years, and initially I hated it.  I'm almost too fat for the bus, there's just enough room behind the wheel for me to sit/fit.  There are a couple of drivers that are too fat for the bus, I really should befriend them and hang out with them, so I could be the thin one.

This bus came from Anoka or Chanhassen or some other goofy place, I got it with about 120,000 miles in the fall of 2008.  I had just enjoyed a year of a rear engine AmTran, which had a power door and a brand new window.  The sliding window fell in on me one fine day in October, and it didn't get replaced until February or March...when it fell in, it just missed my eye and gashed my cheek, I was not happy about that, let me assure you.

So this Bluebird is a "conventional" bus, meaning it has a long nose that sticks out and it has a huge tailswing.  This means that the area between the back wheels and rear bumper is long, and when turning sharply the driver must be careful because that tail will swing around and decimate things.

The bus had the standard manual operated door, which means my right arm got some use...for every school bus stop, they make us activate the yellow lights, put the transmission in N, set the brake all before opening the door, and all that is done with the right arm.  Of course the lights go off automatically, but the door, brake and transmission all must be reset before departing.  Yes, I kept the door well lubed...I don't see how people got by with a sticky squeaky door.

To the best of my memory, the bus never stranded me. It got swapped a couple times, mid route, because of the transmission not shifting out of first gear, the turbo problem, and an air leak....but each time it was driven back to the shop.

 Developed a problem, it'd wear off a front tire in just a few thousand miles.It was weird, too, when I first got the bus, it would not make the turn around a culdesac. Then for a couple years it would, but then at the end, it would not. Maybe they put different sized tires on it.
 coolant leaking onto alternator. BTW, the alternator quit one day, mid route. Batteries lasted the rest of the trip, thankfully.
 Turbo sucked in a seal and blew an amazing amount of smoke. An impressive amount of smoke. It was awesome.
 hood hinge bolt. disappeared for a while, made it a lot of fun to check the engine.
 "crossover mirror" mount. mirror would swivel around so that it was more useless than normal until they put a screw into it. LOL
 Exhaust pipe would smash half flat going into Lincoln school.  They put on a new pipe, and it smashed flat the first time I went to Lincoln.
 Some body damage that I sort of fixed. After 3+ years like this, the shop did some work to it, the same year the bus was retired.

 cup holder and anti rattle.
 Ran it quite a ways further, about another 20,000 miles, I think.
 Turn signal stalk broke off one day. Fun using a pencil....jamming it in to lever it up or down.
Some one mowed their lawn into a big puddle that I hit. That grass stuck to the bus for a long time...kinda funny.


As a teenager, I tried in vain to grow a mustache. Couldn't do it. Kinda gave up on facial hairs until I was nearly 30, when I went on vacation and didn't shave the entire time. When I got home, I had the start of a good shadow, so I just scraped off my cheeks and neck, left the goat part. I was working at an apartment complex, doing maintenance, and an absolutely beautiful girl told me that the goat thingy looked good.

So I kept it.

I grew it longer, trimmed it shorter, bushier, etc. Until I was off work one year between Christmas and New Year, when I shaved my chin naked.

Holy hell, what a mistake.

And I know what you're thinking. This blog is worthless w/o pics. 

It'd be worthless even with pictures.

So 10 or 12 years of a hairy kinda get used to seeing that in the mirror...every time I went into the bathroom, I scared myself....thinking "who is that weak chinned fat bastard?" 

I grew it back just as fast as I could, which was not fast enough....took at least a month for it to look not terrible.

With the massage biz, and the wife preferences, I kept it pretty short, if it got to be too much more than an inch, she got a little crabby about fast forward to 2014. 

15 years of wearing a goat thingy and no wife to complain if it's too long.
 Gay Bar Aug 2014
 That purple shirt pic was one of the first pics taken with the phone, so that is actually Sept 2013
 autumn 2013
 I don't remember when I found Jesus.
 made a beard comb last fall
 Mid Dec 2014 right before I had an interview. I trimmed the goat back to an inch to blend.
Beautiful day in Winona, Jan 2015
 March 2015

Will I keep the beard? I don't know. Probably not, I suspect it will be hot, esp in the motorcycle helmet.  I confess that I really like the comb...I have some oil blend, massage oil, to be honest, with some essential oils in it that I put on the comb. The comb is made from locust and maple, btw, cut on the bandsaw, sanded to taper the teeth. Feels great.

I do like the not shaving aspect of life...saves a little time each day. Does not really save much money, since I can use the dollar store razors; using a razor that cost a dime 5 or 6 life dangerously.  I may see how it goes cut short, since a long goat is painful during motorcycle season anyway.

Opinions welcome....

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Clever title

March 10, 2015 ramblings

On March 9, 2004, the frost was thick and heavy, I slid a city bus down a hill and half around a curve, slamming the back of the bus into a tree, hurting some people and killing the bus. Great day. (yes, that was sarcasm)

Jan 31, 2014, my wife of 20 years or so moves out into a place across town. I assume almost full responsibility for the dissolution. You'd probably understand and agree with the reason, but maybe not the application.

In order to pay for oBamacare, I took on a few more jobs. At the end of 2014 I had 2, plus the continuous occasional massage money stream, the random wood sale, etc. Oh, my other job? Driving a party bus, which they really don't run in the winter. Not helpful to my bank account, but I understand.  My new jobs: weekend maintenance at a hotel and actor at Mayo Clinic. Fun times, friends. 

So for a year and a little more, I've lived alone with my cat. I had not lived alone since meeting Val, in 1993. Overall, I think it's more fun now than it was in 1988-1993, but we have the internet now, too. During this time I've had good times and better times. A few bad times.

Like when the sink drain plugged up, but that really wasn't hard to fix. The bathroom sink drain is next, rather slow. I got really lucky the other day: I had some new sink parts perched on the toilet tank, waiting for installation, (drain plug, the handle and lever for it). Somehow the plug (also called pop up) got dropped into the toilet. I was in a hurry and went to work, promptly forgot about it. When I got home, I had to go, still forgetting about that thing in there....until I heard a *tinkle* when I flushed. "OH CRAP!" I said. Butt everything went down, and has continued to go down since, so I guess I got lucky.

Or how about this last weekend, which was moderately better than the weekend before, but not really. See, the full time guy at the hotel went on vacation, so I agreed to go there during my mid day break to maintain things. This means that I have to drive both cars each day. One to work and the other to work. (I know.) On day 8, I'm heading down and so is the brake pedal. I have a leak. Got it home, filled the MC with brake juice, drove it to the other job on Friday. Leak is worse, of course. A LOT of fun driving it home, but arrived safe. I could see that the RF wheel is coated with brake fluid, so I know it's the hose. I really don't feel like typing up all that occurred, but suffice to say that it was a decently warm day, and I made about 6 trips to the parts store; thank AlGore that it's close. I am still not done, can't get them bled sufficiently because I can't get the bleeder valve to open. I may give up and take it across the street, for them to do it.

Not ready to talk about the weekend prior to the brake weekend. sorry.

Seems like the older I get, the longer winter is, even though the time goes faster. 

My 4th job is in the multidiscipline blah blah blah center at Mayo. Basically my assignment is to pretend I'm a middle aged fat guy with a bad knee. I've got one more day of it this round, and may be called upon to do it a few more times thru the year. Fun times....but I don't get the whole anti bus ride to mayo angst that people have. I've ridden the bus there every time, and twice parked it within a block of the place. Oh, yes. I know, it's not fair....I drove the city bus, so I understand how it works. I live on a bus line; I can go east to one route, or west to a different route. Short walk each time. And since I drive a bus, I can park it in the bus parking right outside the bdlg. Cheating, I know. But you could have moved into a neighborhood where there is a bus....

Some parts of my family want to put Grandma into a nursing home. The idiot cousins disagree. One of them has worked in a nursing home, so maybe she knows better. I don't know...I'm too much of a coward to go visit her....and she wouldn't know me anyway, so....

Oh, I know, this blog entry sucks. Too bad. ;) I just have not felt like writing, every time I do it reads like I'm complaining. And maybe I am. Whining. whatever. 

Thursday, June 05, 2014

10 things I saw today

I did a list thingy once, and it was well received. Maybe if you're lucky someday I'll tell you why I've not been keeping this bloggy thing updated.

1. Deer
2. Turkey
3. flowery bush
4. really nice old car
5. fat guy planting flowers in the rain
6. old couple planting garden
7. cop in a big hurry
8. ambulance chasing cop
9. helicopter leaving hospital
10. Kid falling off skateboard

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"restoring" an old light 50 shades of grey?

Restoring an old light.  Not really restoring, that implies that it'll be just like new, "mint", if you're stuck in the 80's language trap.  

I was cleaning up my laundry room area, and was dusting off this light when I saw that the bulb was in no glass or filament was present.  Some needle nosed pliers make short work of that, but before inserting a new bulb, I see that the socket is loose, so I decide to take it apart to see if there's any problems in there.

There was indeed a problem, friends, one wire that was soldered to the socket was bare and nearly broken off from the socket, so the decision was made to replace it.  I have a bucket full of track lights in the garage, all with really nice ceramic sockets, not bakelite like this one.

A picture would be helpful here, sort of like about 1000 words helpful instead of me trying to describe this light.  But here goes.  First, you should know it's about the colour of a turd.  Brown.  It's also the colour of a lot of traffic lights, that weird bronze colour; not the silver or grey or green and yellow motif that is common around here, but kind of brown...except for where the paint has flaked off and the steel has rusted.

The main body of the light is round, which would be cylindrical.  If it had a flat base and could stand upright, it'd be phallic, and then I'd paint it grey, many different shades of grey.  How many?  50.  The diameter?  If you can imagine my hands, thumbs and middle fingers touching making a circle, that'd be close.  Pretty sure that'd be bigger than Miss Steele's boob.

The light is about a foot long, and hangs from 2 straps that were spot welded to the body of the light.  The cord, which is white and not original to the light enters one end, dead center.  The light socket also mounts there, which is rather unusual for the socket to have a hollow nut to secure the mount to the substrate, and for the cord to enter that same nut.  Generally the cord enters via  a grommet and the socket mount would have either a screw, a bolt, or use a short pipe nipple and nut. 

Covering the wires, therefore protecting them, shielding them from heat from the bulb and keeping kids fingers away from the switch, etc, is a thin flat piece of metal, it fits in the housing loosely, secured with a screw.  Next to the screw is a switch, a simple toggle switch, off and on are the 2 choices, much like you'd expect.  The connections are made thusly:

One wire from the cord is soldered to the switch, which has very small tabs with holes in it for that purpose.   The other cord wire is connected to a wire from the socket with a ceramic wire nut, reused as original.  The other socket wire is soldered to the switch.  Which wires are which?  It does not matter.  The cord is not polarized, meaning the plug doesn't have different sized prongs on it, and it doesn't matter if the positive or the negative/neutral wires are switched, so long as one of them is.  The same amount of current flows thru each wire...and the switch breaks/opens/closes/completes the circuit to enable or stop the flow of electricity.   Does that make sense?

A word about ceramic wire nuts:  Since they're ceramic, or porcelain, they are very heat resistant, nearly indestructible.  But they don't have a metal springy thing in them like a traditional wire nut to help make the connection solid, you have to make sure that you twist the wires together before putting on the wire nut.  

I got the electrical put back together, and thought that I should test it.  So I plugged it in, and didn't get shocked.  Good sign, since I'm really not into getting shocked.  I screwed in a bulb, and flipped the switch.  No light.  Grrrrr.  Different bulb.  No light. Grrrr. flip the switch again, and it lights. Success.

So this light is a cylinder of metal with one "side" open, the inside of it is painted silvery to reflect the light from the bulb back out.  I sanded the rusty parts and bare parts, masked the cord and put some paper in the open area. I washed it with some alcohol to remove all dust, dirt, grease, wax or other surface impurities, then I sprayed it with primer, and will later spray it black.  

Why black?  Because the blue and white and green and grey are in the garage.

Hindsight says I should have rounded up a longer cord for it, it's only about 4', which would roughly be equivalent to the length of Mr Grey's tallywhacker, if you believe everything you read.  Every lamp and every power tool should come with a 12' cord, in my opinion.  Since I've had a drill with a 12" power cord and a different drill with a 12' power cord, I know which one is easier to use...and therefore, I'm right.  Note: the drill for sale is not mine.  I don't know whatever happened to the crappy one that I had.  Maybe Steve has it.

What will I do with this light?  I don't know.  I also don't know where I got it, or how long I've had it.  I've used it in the basement, primarily, have hung it from pipes, but I suspect it's a bed light, for the old steel pipe beds. It could hang off of a door, or under the sink from the pipes, but I'll probably do nothing with it, to be honest.

If you came here from FB expecting this to be all nipple clamps, floggers, butt plugs, handcuffs and grey ties, SORRY!  :)  I'd have to change the settings so no kids could get at it first, and ask my MIL to not read it.