Finding Richard at WordPress.com

Which way did he go? Where has he been? Where is he headed? So many questions . . ..

A Season of (Dis)Repair

Workbench

The van popped its timing belt on US-101.  Good news is that the 3.3L V-6 used in that model is a non-interference engine — which means that when the belt went, the pistons did not bash into the valves, destroying the pistons, the valves, the heads and pretty much the whole engine.  Being a mini-van, it’s going to be a enough of a challenge to change the timing belt.

  • Also needs:
    • Two new tires
    • Front brakes
    • New muffler
    • New serpentine belt
    • A tune up
    • Don’t need, don’t need, done, done &  done!
    • Not bad – considering it’s on the high side of 220,000 miles.

UPDATE:

The van is out of the shop.  Tires and brakes were not as bad as we thought – we’re good for thousands of miles yet on both.  She runs like a dream, and Omer changed out the top and bottom main seals which will take care of the (slight) engine oil leaks while he had the engine apart to replace the timing belt.   The spark plug electrodes and the distributor contacts were so eroded that it’s a wonder that she ran at all.  He also says that the compression is good on all six cylinders — so, we ought to get a lot more miles out of this engine.  🙂

Unfortunately, there’s bad news to got with the good — there’s some body damage from a wind storm that occurred while it was waiting to go into the shop.   Omer is going to see what he can do about popping the fender out when we take it back to have the vent window motors replaced.

Truck needs:

  • Oil change & lube job
    • Done!  Also had the differential flushed.  Much happier little truck, now.
  • Need to take it to a detail shop so they can determine which body drain is clogged and flooding the cab before any *more* electronics die.
    • <rant removed>
    • My lovely bride applied a thin bead of caulk to the rear window seal, as an experiment, and the leak issue is now solved. =:)
  • Remember to thank God (and our neighbor, Jo) for the truck.
    • Otherwise — I’d be walking to work. 24+ miles, each way, uphill – both directions – in the rain, most days. <humble><blessed><thankful><happy>
    • This is an ongoing exercise, and one that I need.  I too suffer from the American malady of always wanting more & better.  That little truck fills the bill in that it’s paid for, it gets me from Point A to Point B and back again — reliably, it can haul what we need hauled, and it’s fairly economical.

House & Yard

  • Need to replace the toilet in the front bathroom with one that will actually flush – and, hopefully – do it without overflowing. #EWWW
  • Need to get the fan replaced in our bathroom.
    • Done!  So nice to be able to shower in our own bathroom again. =:)
  • Need to replace the fence gate that’s being held up by prayer, the trash & recycle cans, and a short chunk of re-bar.  (The neighbors will be thrilled – it needed to be replaced when we moved in — a decade ago.) #ItsAboutFlippinTime
  • Really need to tear the deck off the play house and re-do it.  Before someone falls all the way through it.
    • Need to replace the door on the playhouse.
    • And at least the portion of the floor where the @#*! squirrels chewed through it to give themselves an escape hatch to evade the dogs.
      • Consider using cold-rolled 1/4″ steel plate.  Yeah, it’s hard on drill bits — but, it ought to slow down the squirrels, somewhat.
    • Probably should also install hardware cloth at the eves, so they can’t get in that way.
    • Do a thorough post-rodent clean-up.
    • (Find out if it’s legal to squirrel hunt with a flamethrower.) #GoodCleanFun

Workshop

  • Repair the drawer that was broken in the package on the cabinetmaker’s bench
  • Support the bottom shelf so you can actually set something on it without it falling out of the dados and hitting the floor.
  • Build an assembly table.
  • Build some decent & useful sawhorses.
  • Build a shaving horse to make oars, masts, sprits, etc.

And, oh yeah:

The dryer died last night . . .

Ed, Brenda & I tag-teamed that puppy.  Field-stripped it, (You have to tear dryers down to the bones to do anything.), replaced the broken belt, the thermostat and the breaker.  Then, we put it all back together. It dries! =:o)

Good thing we got our taxes done.

Like The Man Said:

  • Be thankful for needing car repairs.
    • It means that you haven’t had to walk everywhere.
  • Be thankful for home repairs.
    • They mean you haven’t been living out in the weather.
  • Be thankful in all things.
    • For God has been taking care of you — all of your life.
      • Whether you’ve been paying attention, or not.

 

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History Repeats Itself

Especially for those who refuse to learn from it . . .

RollaKS04141935-Duster-FDRPresidentialLibrary

Dust storm approaches Rolla, KS – April 14, 1935 – Photo courtesy of the FDR Presidential Library Collection.

Hubris

I just finished watching a show about the American Dust Bowl Years titled “Black Blizzard” on History Channel.  It was a pretty good analysis of the disastrous Dust Bowl years in the Great Plains, as well as the government policies and programs that lead up to them.  “Plant more wheat!  Eat more bread!,”  “Breadbasket to the World!,” etc.

For anyone unfamiliar with that portion of our history, I highly recommend the 2-hour documentary.   Right at the end though, there is a bit of irony:  The narrator says “Others need to learn from our experiences, as today we are seeing giant dust storms in Western China and Sub-equatorial Africa.”  To give them their due, they do cut back to a pair of Dust Bowl survivors from Oklahoma and Texas who warn that we are experiencing years as hot & dry in the High Plains now as they were in the years leading up to the Dust Bowl.  One says that the only reason we are not seeing dust storms like they had in the 1930s is because they are pumping water out of the Ogllala aquifer at unprecedented rates to irrigate crops and pastures.   He warns: “When the water runs out – and it will – we’re going to be in trouble.”

But, there is more to the story than that.

I remember my oldest son & daughter’s great grandfather telling me in 1980 that we were heading back to the Dust Bowl just as fast as farmers could rip out shelter belts, fill in water retention ponds and runoff waterways, and flatten contour terraces.  The culprit?  High wheat prices and new large-scale machinery that let one man farm more acres of land.   We were pheasant hunting in Northern Kansas, and he showed me a one-lane county road that ran between two large wheat fields:  “See that road?  Five years ago, it was two lanes wide with a ditch on either side.  You can’t drive on it for a week after a rain, now.  If the county doesn’t stop these guys, it will be gone in a couple years.”

Yet, it’s the people in China and Africa that need  to learn from our mistakes?

AbandonedFarmCimarronStripOK1940

Abandoned Farm, Cimarron County, Oklahoma, 1937  –  US Library of Congress Prints & Photographs On-line Collection

Come Sail Away!

Sailing off over the horizon to distant places has been a dream of mine since I was just a kid FishermansBaySunset. .  . (WAIT! Wasn’t that just yesterday?!?)

Anyway, when I’m pondering the future, I’ll call up my favorite search engine (of the moment) and enter something like “voyaging on a budget.”  Yesterday, I got a hit for a site that I hadn’t seen before:

Capt. John’s The Frugal Voyager’s Cruising and Living Aboard website

Capt. John will be 70 this year, and has spent the past 20 years living aboard and cruising to distant ports.  So, he has a base of experience from which to speak.  He’s also very good at advising you how to have a stress-free life afloat. Things like don’t buy more boat than you need, avoid sailing with “Capt. Boat Payment,” how to avoid sailing into thin financial waters in paradise, how to keep your boat bug-free in the tropics, who to not take advice from around the marina, and why – if you are the one with the dream – you should send your spouse/s.o. – to sailing lessons from a qualified offshore sailing school, etc.   Lots of really great advice.

I’m still cruising the site and enjoying the content therein.

 

An Appropriate Graffiti Companion

To Yesterday’s Post:

BeesLeave

The commentary is accurate.  Most food & forage crops require pollinating.

Rare NW Bumblebee Bouncing Back

Bombus flavifrons on a lupine flower.

They think it (the bumblebee population decline) may have been due either directly to competition from imported honeybees or from the parasites they carry, but either way, the wild bumblebees are making a comeback:

Rare Bumblebee P.N.W. Bumblebee Populations Rebound

Here is a StartPage search for Bumblebee-friendly garden plants:

Bumblebee-friendly Plants

 

Feeding My Tool Addiction

Update: WK Fine Tools has changed their site configuration, so the original link from this post no longer worked.  I’ve found the new address and updated my link.  While I was at it, I added links for Bob Smalser’s article on the 8-siding marking gauge, and I’ve added a link for his index at WK’s tool making pages.

Tools. They are an addiction. Especially once you move beyond the home maintenance tool set. Recently, while planning to build a pair of small sailing dinghies, I got to thinking about making masts, booms and oars. I knew that there’s a way to make a gauge to help you go from square to 8-sided. So . . . Off to my favorite tool making site I went. Turns out there was an article from a gentleman who lives just up the road. Bob Smalser has a real talent with wood, and with making tools, and in knowing how to explain how to do things in plain English so that they are understandable by ADDled dunderheads like me.

Making Woodworking Tools @ WK Fine Tools

How we used to die; how we die now

Source: How we used to die; how we die now

A pointed and poignant look at how people have passed over for centuries contrasted to how more than one half of Americans die today.  This is written by an Emergency Medicine physician with over twenty-five years experience.

12 Life Lessons Learned From The Great Depression

Source: 12 Life Lessons Learned From The Great Depression

Another good one from Rachel at How to Provide.  My parents were married during The Great Depression and passed along many lessons learned.  If you don’t follow the international financial news, right now the Chicken Littles of the financial sector are going on about “bubbles bigger than ’08.”  How serious is it?  Are they truly warning of dire circumstances in progress and death and destruction in the pipeline?  Or, are they just trying to sell whatever financial instrument or commodity that they’re hawking this week?  I don’t know.  I tend to be an optimist and believe that they are trading on fear.  But, I could be wrong.

If you would like a look into the insights of the international financial wizards and pundits, here’s an article at (Where else?) How to Provide titled “Deflation Threatens to Swallow the World.”

Legal Issues for Homesteaders and Farmers

Source: Legal Issues for Homesteaders and Farmers

For those of you thinking of moving to the country to raise a living for your family, you need to read this article over at How to Provide — just to determine if you wish to adopt the mindset necessary to deal with government agents when they appear on your property.

We have family members with personal experience with this.  They were out working in their garden when they saw armed men in dark clothing strolling across their ten acres.  When they confronted them about it, they were told that – because they live with in 50 miles of the border with Canada – that Homeland Security has the right to “inspect” their property at will, unless it is fenced and posted.  What one federal agency takes upon itself, the rest soon adopt.

Then, there are corporate agents, who think themselves a power even above the agencies of mere mortals . . . Anyone ever heard of Monsanto and their “patented genetic materials?”

Puddle Duck Dreamin’

Christmas decorations are all back up in the garage’s “attic,” days are starting to get longer – and warmer – and, an old geek’s mind is starting to wander toward days to spend learning to sail in some unlikely-looking boxy little boats at the lake down the road.  Yep!  I’m Puddle Duck dreamin’ again!

Puddle Duck Racers are a loosely knit international class of low-cost racing dinghies that are usually home-built.  To facilitate participation by home builders and a high degree of experimentation, the developer of the class, David “Shorty” Routh, decided that the bottom 10″ of the boats should be as similar as practical (+/- 1/4″) for home boat builders, and that the rest should be left up to the individual builder.  There have been some evolutionary changes, but you are basically building an 8′ x 4′ flat-bottomed box boat.  The bottom has enough rocker to allow for planing performance under a modest sail rig — that is usually as homemade as the rest of the boat.

PDRRacin

Start of the very first Puddle Duck “Regatta” Lake Woodlands, TX Feb. 28, 2004.  Hulls #1 & 2 pictured.

What you wind up with is a safe, light & stable 8′ boat to learn to sail in.  As you can see from the photo, even us “old guys” can have fun in them.  I’ve always been very enamored with sailing, but have never really learned how — other than playing deck monkey for other people on their boats.  I would also like to get John & Joe interested in sailing, as it is a sport that they can enjoy for the rest of their lives, and, sailing is also a means of traveling long distances relatively inexpensively — without being at the mercy of some multinational corporation.

I won’t go into all the details of my planning for the construction of these boats, but I’m going to do at least two ‘ducks from 1/4″ ACX plywood with fir strips for framing, and would really like to do a “PD-Goose” which is a 12’ version of the PDR.  The Goose is not class legal, but I think it would make a good car-top fishing boat for the local lakes, and could serve as a “committee boat” if we generate some interest in racing Puddle Ducks in the local area.

If you want more information about the Puddle Duck Racer, please go to the class pages maintained at PDRacer.com.  Their is an extensive site map, as well as a good site-specific Google search on several of the index pages.  By all means, go on over and take a look around.  Shorty and the other ‘duckers have amassed a wealth of information on building, equipping and sailing the Puddle Duck Racer.   Who knows?  We might wind up fighting for position approaching the windward mark someday.  =;)

 

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