Sunday, February 26, 2012

Making do or Repurposing

My Dad was a recycler before recycle was popular. He was one out of necessity, habit and choice. A term I hear a lot today is to repurpose an item and this, my Dad did a lot of as well. He was in some ways a renaissance man I use to think but in truth he was a man of his time and place in the world.

Born in the early 1920’s he was raised by his grandfather, who unfortunately I can not say was anything but a racist who left Georgia for Texas after killing a carpetbagger. Called Doc Adams because he was trained as Doctor from Duke University but preferred doctoring horses over people.  He carried on him a concelled colt 45 peacemaker that killed 7 white men in “self-defense” and unknown number of blacks which he didn’t bother to keep track of. Doc Adams lived to almost 100 years old and died in a accident on the horse farm he still worked in East Texas. When he was asked by mother how a man like him could live so long he responded “Because I hate.” When He died I understand that a number of people came to his funeral. I suspect not because of respect but to make sure he was dead. We didn’t attend my mother was a Choctaw Indian and wasn’t white enough.

I tell you this because my Dad was the most un-racist man I have ever known of and who passed on to me the belief that the quality of the man was not in the color of his skin but in the quality of his character.

Now why am I telling your dear reader of this short history of my Dad’s upbringing? It is because he had to begin at a early age to earn his upkeep.

From his grandmother a Southern Louisiana woman he learned to cook after Doc Adams had to remove her left arm when it was bitten by a spider and the bite turned septic. This was helping in the kitchen while other children there to visit played. From my granddad he learned to hunt, fish, skinned, clean and butcher anything worth hunting not to mention hogs and steers.

Since by the age of 10 he was almost full grown he was often lent to help out building barns and cabins so he learned carpentry, Because my great grandfather also mined low grade coal off his horse ranch he learned how to weld and basic mechanic skills to repair the old dump wagons and the model T that from age 11 he drove his grandfather around in on his doctoring rounds. In 1940 he was signed up by his Grandfather in the Army reserve at age 17 so that he could earn a few extra bucks while still hanging around as free labor on his horse farm.

Why you might ask am I telling you this short history of my Dad. Well because I have started a search for a second hand or very used mini or midi truck to replace the old Isuzu Pickup my youngest wrecked. This morn I awoke from a dream thinking about my Dad. When he needed a vehicle he often would go out and drag one from the field of some farmer friend and somehow get it to run and keeping it running using it until he had the finances to buy a better one. He tried to teach me by how by dragging me out on these rescue missions.

The first things he would do of course would be drag the old car out of the field to a flat area dis-lodging the snakes and field mice who had taken up residence in the old car. Then while I jacked up the car and began removing the wheels with the flat tires mounted on them he would begin the reviving of the old motor the whole time talking to me and calling me over to see what he was doing.

First he would remove the spark plugs and use Marvel Mystery Oil squirted from a old oil pump can into each cylinder through the plug hole. Then he would disconnect the fuel lines pull the carburetor putting it into a bucket of kerosene to soak away the old grease and carbon build up. Then he would with the car up on jacks drain the oil if any, replace the filter, fill it up again with MMO. Then he would take a heavy flat head screwdriver or small crow bar and at a access port turn the flywheel over breaking loose the engine from years of just sitting there.

If it turned over freely he would if I remember correctly he would then attach a fresh battery hook up and use the starter to turn over the engine at a faster rate circulating the Marvel Mystery Oil throughout the engine. He would use a compression guage to verify if it still had compression and if all checked out he would then put it back in use. Cleaning out the gas tank, flushing out brake, fuel and cooling system, greasing the ball joints fittings and setting gaps on fresh spark plugs (usually recycled plugs) and points on the distributor, all usually done in a single day. He would then drive off the old car to use until a paycheck or extra money would come in. Nearly everything he used on the old car most often came from a pull and carry wrecking yard. The last old car he did this too was a old Rambler station wagon about a 54 to a 56 as best as I can remember. Either way when Dad was through with something it truly was ready for the scrap yard.

Why am I again bringing up this old history of my Dad?

Well it is a reminder of lessons learned from the generation that recovered from last major depression/recession. They learned the hard way to recycle and repurpose an item until that item was totally used up and not throw it on the trash heap because it had lost it’s newness. Perhaps it is time for us to learn to do so as well in these difficult times as well.

I am still looking for that second had mini-truck and eventually I will find one. When I do it may not look very sharp based on what is considered by most. But, I will know it will get me around until better times or it has been totally used up.

On a side note as I lubricate a squeaky door or a rusty old bolt on the old car I will be using the same oil can my Dad used on the old cars he recycled.

In The Shop- movies -reading
The photo following is the reason I have deceided to spend time reorgainzing my shop space. Until I do I think not much will get done.

 Movies been busy with family to watch much but have enjoyed the latest round of the "Walking Dead" on AMC. 
Reading mostly Michael Dibbin "The Dead Lagoon" a Zen character mystery along with a issues of "Popular Mechanics." "Wood" and "Amerian Woodworker". 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Is There Value in a Pity Party?

Did you ever feel like a week has been a dud. I mean a totally waste of time and effort. If not then be grateful. This week has been that way for me. Even so I can readily admit I am grateful for the week.

But, you just said it was a dud. Well, yeah it was. But it still has a purpose.

My Dad used to tell me when I would complain of someone or something and I would ask why he wasn’t expressing similar feelings he would tell me. “David, everybody, event, and thing has a purpose if it is no more than to remind you not to do that again.  

That is what this past week has been for me a week to remind me not to do that again.  What again am I talking about?

First, it is wasting my time fretting and feeling sorry for myself over things I cannot change. It is feeling sorry for myself that I think is the greatest waste of this past week. I mean having a pity party not going to change a thing. Pity and generally feeling sorry for myself achieves only one thing and that is prevention of getting on with our life.

This past week because I only achieved feeling sorry for myself I did not get into the shop and build the remote caddy, redesign my Iphone stand to one that works better. In general spend time in the shop. Why? Because I was feeling sorry for myself thinking I could not do anything since it was cold or damp or both or I didn’t have what I needed. I could go on but I get bored with myself.

I could sit here and blame others for the pity party I have been throwing all week but truthfully growing up like I did if there is one thing I learned it is to depend on yourself not on another for what you need. So in the end I have only myself to blame.

The big question remains what to prevent the pity party to carry on into next week. The answer again is me. To commit myself to doing move forward rather than stagnating in this self-filling pool of frustration.

1.   First I am going to commit myself to spending the necessary time in the physical therapy. That is time in the Rehab pool 3 days a week to improve blood flow in my legs and lower body.

2.   No matter the weather excuses to get out into my garage shop and make some sawdust or noise at least.

3.   Take a moment to write and read. This is important to me. I like to read. Consequently that reading encourages me to write. What kind of writing well this blog for one. But to exercise my imagination and try a little fiction and work on my family history to leave behind when I gone. Although sometime family history and fiction are one and the same.

4.   Be a little more creative in the kitchen. I have allowed myself to become too routine in cooking that I do during the week. So it is time to change up from what I normally do and try something new. What better time than this coming week when there is Valentine’s day and my Wife birthday two days later.

No one knows really what lays in store for him or her. We like to think we are in control but if there is one thing I have learned by somehow reaching sixty-two years of age is that the only thing we can control is our attitude.

I hope this blog hasn’t been a totally waste of your time to read but it hasn’t been a waste of my time to write. For it has reminded me don’t let life get too you and drag you down. But rather keep moving ahead shaking off the lethargy can grip us when we allow self-pity weigh us down.


Sorry. Been too busy throwing a pity party and having my head up my a#% to get anything done.

Saw this cartoon and thought of Warren from Tesla's Laptop

Monday, February 6, 2012

Who am I

My wife has often referred to me as having the heart and mindset of a gypsy. The first time she told me this I realized she was right.

I knew without question that was who I am. It made so much sense to me to simply accept this definition of who I was.

It explained my dislike of homeownership in a society that values homeownership. It explains why I find myself becoming antsy after a few years in one place and begin looking around thinking it would not be too bad living in a new neighborhood.

I came about this gypsy mentality not just genetically but through environmental influence. Growing up my father was a rolling stone that gathered no moss. Many a time we moved regardless of school year from east coast to the west coast to the south coast (Gulf Coast). I can tell folks honestly that I have been or lived in very state south of the Ohio and west of the Mississippi River.

As a kid I came to value a sleeping bag for it meant I always had a place to sleep even it was on the side of the road with a curb bumper for a pillow. I have absolutely no problem falling asleep with stranger walking by but will be instantly awake if they should come too close. My wife is the only one who can walk up on me as I nap and not awake me.

I know what it is like to live in a house without heat or electricity because we didn’t have the deposit or could not pay the bill. 

I know what it is like to appreciate a mayonnaise sandwich. To miss meals because there wasn’t anything there to eat. Growing up beans and fried potatoes were our nightly fare. If we had cornbread it was considered a luxury. Meat was regulated to a Sunday dinner if then. Breakfast was often grits without sugar or butter, which to this day I still can’t eat grits. Once I started working I didn’t pay it any mind missing lunch and often forgo it saving the money for other things. Eating was something I sought out to do not something I had to do. This came from my growing up on the move.

I grew up understanding not to get too attach to physical items as those items might be sold to fiancé the next move. As a result I all too often am ready to sell my possessions to help a member of my family resulting in going from a shop full of tools to one with just enough tools to do minor repairs to our living quarters or automobile. That is where I am right now with my tools, starting over. I think though I will keep them portable as we are looking for a place to live and a carport may be what I have as a working space vs. a 2 car garage I have now. But this ideal of my gypsy mentality helps to understand why I like reading about guys who have setup shops in small spaces keeping their tools portable.

 I have been through at least 3 collections of books in my lifetime and this despite my love of books. It is just too easy to sell in times of need or lack of space in the trailer. Growing up I often saw my books come and go but there were always a few on me at all times. One would be of course a pocket version of the Holy Bible, a book of poems for young adults, and usually Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Fin. It is one reason I value Public Libraries for I could always find one with something as well as a place to read. But today I as I grow older I find myself reluctant to let go books. I find comfort in seeing them on their shelf and holding them in my hand reading a few favorite passages.

This love of books and reluctancy in getting rid of them is one reason I have been considering bookshelf’s made in the style that Thomas Jefferson used. His ideal was to use 3 ft. long shelf’s of varying heights to accommodate books that these elongated cubes could be unstack using them as crated for his books when he moved about from his home in Monticello or Philadelphia or in Washington DC. Then on arrival restacked and ready for use. I am seriously thinking of doing this for my own books not only for the next move but for the rest home where I most likely finish this life up in.

In the end growing up with a nomadic or gypsy environment I believe your emphasis tends to be family first before possessions. That there is always room for one more in the house and at the table. That the pundits are wrong who say “He who dies with the most toys Wins”. But rather, he who is missed most in his passing that will be valued and remembered wins in the end.

I know that this was a little bit different post for me but it might help explain my strong liberal leanings for the downtrodden and distrust of the establishment.

Projects and Movies

This week I plan on tackling a remote caddy and will post photos when completed. I am still thinking about ways that I can improve the iphone docking station as I feel like it’s footprint is still too large and I am uncomfortable with the way it stands unsupported fearing that the plug might become damaged. I have this 3 inch square chunk of rosewood that I keep trying to think of a way to make it work. I just not sure as to how to do it.

One type of movie I like is what I call a slice of life movie. These movies tend to be just a short section of a characters’ life that usually is in a time of change. This past week Reba and I watched “The Narrows” a movie about a young mans desire to break away from his Brooklyn Neighborhood becoming a photographer. I thought it was rather good for a indie flick with a number of well known stars.

Enough for now.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

But Can You Walk the Walk

You can talk the talk but can you walk the walk?

That was the thoughts going through my head as I listen to President Obama on the State of the Nation. He made a lot of good selling points for this old working class liberal for the agenda he would like to set for the country. But we all know that it isn't going to happen.   

There is no way that the republicans in control of the house is going to allow any kind of action that might reflect well on the Democrats. In Short this means another year of the same old BS as we had last year.  

May God help us.

Movies, books, and projects

This past week I watched a movie my daughter brought home called “In Time”


I have to say that I am totally surprised by it. This was a movie that was futuristic in setting but current in theme. How you might ask was it futuristic and current in theme?

To keep from being a spoiler I will only say that the characters live in the future where  we are frozen in time at the age of 25 and from that point on we are advanced time based on our productivity. We don’t age but if we run out of our allotted or earned time we die on the spot. Everything we want or need is traded for not with money but with the time we are willing to give up and for the bulk of the people the amount of time they have at any one time is 24 hours.

It breaks the society they lived in down to those who have and those who don’t. Those that don’t live in literally the ghetto and those that have live in private enclaves protected by security and walls from the rabble.

I really don’t want to go deeper into the film risking become an spoiler, but you do need to watch this film. If it doesn’t disturb you with it similarities to our current life and society then nothing will.

Finished reading “Fevered Dream” by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child and it was excellent page turner and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys both a who-dun-it  with flashes of historical references and sci-fi possibilities. Simply a great book.

Out in the shop I undertook to create a docking/charging station for my Iphone. I use my phone as a primary phone and consequently it is never turned off for more than a few minutes. So I charge it while I sleeping with on my nightstand.

With inspiration from Etsy sellers photo of similar stand I began working out a proto-type and think I have a rough ideal. I would still like to remine it a little more before I begin making some for family and friends birthdays and Christmas presents.

It is made from a piece of cherry and a pair of old black screws used for leveling legs and set the piece at angle for viewing and looks. Like I said it is still a work in progress.

Well enough for now.