Monday, January 07, 2013

How did I do?

Hard to believe that it has been almost a year since my last blog entry.  I do spend much more time at Facebook, putting up pictures and blurbs, rather than in Blogger telling stories.

What I said I wanted to do:

  • Finish more projects than I start (especially the dresser project that was started years ago and is close to done)

  • Well, I didn't finish MUCH, but I did make progress on things, didn't start too many things, AND finished the dresser!!

  • Do more cooking and baking.

  • Yes, I do more cooking and baking.  That slacked off some over the summer, but I am back into it more.

  • Have a deck built (or at least the part out my bedroom door).

  • Nope!  Maybe this fall I can have the part outside the bedroom door going.

  • Continue to de-clutter and make my house more organized.

  • A work in progress.  I have made more strides and have gotten a little bit better at keeping things organized and decluttered.  A long way to go, but I am pleased and will continue.

  • Go camping once or twice.

  • Went camping once (ugh, disaster because of rain).

  • Go kayaking once or twice.

  • Went kayaking once (nice trip but felt a little rushed by JP).

  • Go skiing once or twice.

  • Nope.  However, I expect to get out once or twice THIS winter.

  • So now this year's list.

    • Finish the bed (which is probably more than 2/3rds done).
    • Finish the butterfly restoration (at least all the parts except the swing out "wings").
    • Make visible progress on the Goosneck arm chair restoration.
    • Get the teardrop trailer built and weather tight for at least 1 trip (may not be complete, but hopwefully, useable).
    • More decluttering.  Copy VHS tapes to DVDs,  Cassettes to MP3. Would like to digitize pictures in albums.  Would REALLY love to digitize old magazines.
    • Clean out the garage.
    • ?
    • ?
    Yep, lots to do!
    Happy 2013 everyone!

    Wednesday, January 11, 2012

    2011 New Year's Resolutions

    This year I want to:

    • Finish more projects than I start (especially the dresser project that was started years ago and is close to done)
    • Do more cooking and baking.
    • Have a deck built (or at least the part out my bedroom door).
    • Continue to de-clutter and make my house more organized.
    • Go camping once or twice.
    • Go kayaking once or twice.
    • Go skiing once or twice.
    Any other suggestions?

    Tuesday, July 05, 2011

    Totally Random, and Connections

    Sometimes a totally random thought comes to me and I want to explore it. Today, while I was stripping finish off a table leaf a scene from "National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation" was in my head. The scene was in a casino. The Griswold's had lost all their money and were lamenting on what to do. Then, Sid Caesar won the big prize in Keno and had a heart attack. he gave the ticket to the Griswolds.

    Then, as I was preparing my coffee and washing dishes, a different scene came to me. This was from the original "Vacation" movie where the Griswold's were travelling to Wally World by car. They are out in a very rural area having lunch with Mrs. Griswold's cousin and that family. Out walks Imogene Coca and surprises Mr. Griswold by saying "You're driving me to Phoenix!!" On the way, she dies (and so does her nasty little dog).

    The connection. Both Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca die in those movies. Both were tremendous comedians. Both were regulars on a 1950's TV show called "Your Show of Shows." I was too young to have seen that show when it first aired, but have seen a clip here and there throughout my life.

    But WHY did my mind decide to make that connection today?

    By the way, I used to love a PBS show called "Connections" with a host named James Burke. In that show, Burke would pick up little bits and pieces of information and show how one thing led to a completely different thing over time. For example, he might demonstrate how Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo led to the discovery of Super Glue. Two things seemingly random, yet if you look deep enough you can find a connection.

    Friday, April 29, 2011

    The last day at Aon...there's always something!

    Today was my last day working for Aon. It was not very eventful at the office, but outside the office a lot happened.

    1. I wanted to drive the Jeep because it was supposed to be a beautiful day. The Jeep had just been repaired (fuel pump and hoses) and was at the mechanic ready to be picked up. To get there (just 2 miles, mostly downhill) I took a bike. But it was colder outside than I planned for. Oh well, only 2 miles and too tough to pedal uphill to get home and dress warmer. I arrived shivering. The Jeep started up great, drove home, changed, and went to the office.

    2. The new PC was supposed to be delivered (for my job starting Monday) sometime today by FedEx. Got home at 2pm and there was a note on the door saying I could pick it up at the office. Why can't the deliveryman be late, like he would have been had I been home waiting? Had a late lunch and got there about 3. The lady said "the truck doesn't get back until 7. We close at 8. If you want, you can pick it up tomorrow". OK, wasted trip, but it was a nice Jeep drive on a beautiful day.

    3. Cleaned the birdbath and made some hummingbird food. Went to pick up my son (using the Jeep) and turned it off while waiting. 10 minutes later, with him in the car, it wouldn't start. I just picked it up from the mechanic TODAY! It already has a new coil, new starter, new battery, new battery cables, new fuel pump, new distributor, and new fuel line hoses. Turning the key causes the "battery gauge" to drop, so it all seems right. Decided to go into the Italian restaurant there and have dinner and let things under the hood cool down.

    4. After dinner, it still wouldn't start. Still enough daylight, I called my mechanically inclined neighbor. He came with a couple of tools. He seemed to be focused on the solenoid, which is between the battery and the starter. He said "it seems intermittent, but also registers ok...let me try something." He takes wires off and scrapes the bolts and terminals a little. They didn't seem corroded to me, nor did it seem like he made any difference. He put them back on and the Jeep fired right up... Amazing! On Sunday I will do a more thorough cleaning of those connections and put dielectric grease on it all to retard corrosion.

    5. Got home and decided my mailbox was just too beat up. I have had a new replacement in the garage ready to go for YEARS. Still plenty of daylight. I take off the old, put on the new, then go to put on the clasps and flag. Not enough screws, and not enough nuts. There should be a longer screw to go through the flag. Who packaged this hardware??? I look at the hardware package and stamped on it are the words "Packaged by the blind". If I don't put the flag on, there are enough screws, but still 1 nut shy. Luckily I am a handyman. I have plenty of spare parts in my shed. Found the exact nut needed and put the clamps on. Won't need the flag for awhile. Actually, I don't like the new flag. I want to use the old flag, but it attaches differently. So on Sunday I will trace the holes of the old box, drill matching holes on the new box, and mount the old flag on the new box.

    There's always SOMETHING...isn't there? It's going to be nice working from home and have the ability to do little tasks either during lunchtime or immediately after commute to eat up daylight.

    Tuesday, March 01, 2011

    Need RTV

    As we were growing up, my dad often referred to using RTV. Look it up and you will see that it stands for "Room Temperature Vulcanizing" rubber. It's a sticky product that is squirted out of a tube, then cures to a rubbery consistency. Amazing how many things my dad felt could be fixed by applying some RTV (fixing holes in sneakers using "Shoe-Goo" was just one use my dad had for RTV).

    Well, it has been years since I even thought about RTV. Then all of a sudden I have a need for it. I like my simple bluetooth earpiece (Motorola H3). It came with the older phone I bought and since replaced. Nothing is wrong with the bluetooth electronics, but a molder rubber piece has torn over the years and is starting to fall off. I set it on the shelf for a long time because using it was a little ear-ritating!

    And all of a sudden it hit me...I need RTV !! A judicious squirt here and there and I can stick that piece back on. Another squirt or two and some forming with a popsicle stick will make that piece good as new. It may not actually look like it came from the factory but it will work perfectly. And all for a little over a dollar.

    Good old RTV !

    Wednesday, July 14, 2010

    I'm 50! And I can Kick and Streeeeeeetch, and KICK!

    Birthday card from my brother Duane. I passed the quiz.

    This is for all you guys out there.
    Scroll down after you have a nice look.

    Monday, March 15, 2010

    Moving forward, cautiously.

    I got a phone call, based on my last post, wondering if I was depressed and suicidal. Absolutely not! I just had a lot going through my mind that day and wanted to write. Sometimes that is therapeutic.

    So, now I have more on my mind and will do the same…don’t worry, I’m just fine.

    A few years ago I was dating a woman who started off our relationship with “Isn’t it amazing how much we have in common?” A few months after that, we stood in the exact same spot in her kitchen and she said she wanted to break up because we don’t have much in common. OK, no big deal, so I left. Less than 2 weeks later, she was calling me saying “I think I really made a big mistake in breaking up, and can we get back together?” Well, for me, that ship had sailed. Why could she not have taken the 2 weeks to reflect before making that decision to break up? It just seemed wishy-washy to me and I didn’t want to be in a potential “on again, off again” relationship.

    She believed herself to be a very positive person. After a few months of observation, I got the feeling she was kidding herself into believing she was positive, but in fact was just denying reality. Just a casual glance around her house revealed books lying around by Deepak Chopra, and Eckhart Tolle. Why would a positive person need to have books like this lying at every turn? I believe that they were crutches to help her convince herself that she was a positive person, whenever she was feeling not so positive.

    Reality is what it is. Sometimes we are up, sometimes we are down. Sometimes things go right and sometimes they go wrong. I do not see myself as positive, nor negative…just accepting of the fact that there is this duality.

    One thing this woman said struck me as very interesting. We were talking one day about why my ex left me. She said to me “Tim, you need to look at this in a positive way. (gee, go figure) She knew what she was like (liar and cheater) and that it did not fit with your personality. She loved you SO much that, subconsciously, she gave you your freedom from living with someone like her.”

    I like that. It must be unconscious. My ex (wife or recent girlfriend) seem to just hate me. I have heard before that there is a very fine line between love and hate. That person who you once loved, for so many reasons, all of a sudden is someone you hate. But why? I know for a fact that they were treated well.

    Observe this text from one of the earliest emails I got from the ex-gf.

    “…I am amazed by you. Your passion for life, happiness, music, opera, JP, hobbies, future plans, and me is so unusual and refreshing. You are so different than anything else I’ve experienced and you were right under my nose. Amazing????????? Awesome???????? I am loving every second that we are together and think of you every second that we are apart.

    Relax your mind and know that I am a CONSTANT in your life. I don’t want to be overbearing, but I do love our time together. ….”

    How interesting that only a handful of months later, everything about me drove her crazy (like that my joints crack, or that I don’t put food in the garbage can, or that I don’t want to be in crowds and have my wallet stolen). And that “constant” that she SAID she was became a “variable” pretty quickly.

    So she has moved on…after just a few weeks I knew she was already in the next relationship, and is likely telling the new guy that he is amazing, passionate, etc. I have my doubts that it will last, though, because she is someone who needs rescuing.

    I learned something about myself recently…that I seem to be drawn to people and things that need rescuing. I much prefer to build or restore furniture than buy, for example. My ex (wife and GF) both had childhoods that they deemed unhappy, due to their relationships with their parents. I felt for them and stepped in as the good guy that they needed. But, inevitably it was shown that their troubled pasts could not be forgotten, and for all the love and attention I gave, it appeared to never be enough. All of MY flaws became major issues, and on they went to the next rescuer.

    So now I am taking my time in order to try to not become attached to yet another woman who needs rescuing. To that end I just had a wonderful second date. Let me describe.

    I met “K” through one of the online services. She lives in Greensboro and our first date was lunch a couple of weeks ago. She is very much into the performing arts and loves opera, but she never had any friends who would make consistent plans with her. I didn’t have a date for “Carmen” so asked her if she would like to see it. She had to check her calendar and let me know, but she got back saying she was available and would love to see it.

    That second date was yesterday. We met at the parking lot next door to [removed] and drove down to Charlotte for the show. She had never been to one of the pre-show lectures (which I enjoy) and I assured her that the speaker was wonderful. Well, just a few words into the lecture and she leaned over and said “She’s so sassy…I love it!” and was smiling the whole time.

    The opera was gorgeous. I had never SEEN Carmen, but was so familiar with the music. It had everything…love, lust, desire, anger, violence, insanity, and murder. It had strong vocals and some absolutely beautiful dancing! There is a scene where a song and dance is done by “cigarette girls”…they work in a cigarette factory. All of them wore dresses that flowed so beautifully and invoked imagery of cigarette smoke. Even the lyrics were about smoke. That’s choreography!

    “K” LOVED the show, as did I. Afterward we walked a little and found an Italian restaurant that was not just your average pasta and sauce place. She had a seafood risotto and I had chicken marsala. We shared a portion with each other and had a bottle of Malbec. The conversation (and my date) couldn’t have been lovelier. On the drive back we talked about so many things and seem to be at a close/similar place in our lives, though not exactly the same place.

    We talked of former relationships, books, authors, musicals, operas, and so much more. We don’t agree on everything, but the respect for different opinions was evident. I told her that I do not want to rush or push for a relationship and she thanked me for that. It is important for me to make sure that I do not play the savior role in another relationship, and that I have someone that is confident about herself…her looks, and her ability to take care of herself. She seems to have that confidence (and I told her so). She told me about former husband and some former relationships, and her desire to find a man who was mature enough to turn off the sports and communicate for a change. She doesn’t need someone who is 100% compatible, but compatible with a willingness to compromise with each other.

    She’s a good looking woman and looked fantastic dressed up for the opera. We parted with a hug and kiss on the cheek. She is on the downside of a cold and it was evident that she was congested, sneezing, etc. Neither of us wanted ME to get sick.

    Sound nice? It was!
    Looking forward to next time. One thing that is clear is that NEITHER one of us is jumping into the next relationship. To do so would just be needy/codependent.

    Tuesday, February 16, 2010


    I would like to live in a world where the women I date are honest.

    I was married for almost 13 years. Before that I was in a long term relationship for about 4 years, and after that in and out of short term relationships, culminating in a recent relationship of almost a year.

    What I discovered through these relationships is that the women are rarely honest. Lies were told to my face, thinking that I either would never find out the truth, or in some cases not knowing that I already knew the truth. I always gave my significant other the benefit of the doubt, and plenty of chances to be honest, or even change her tune. Other “things” were not discussed, or hidden (lies of omission). I am not naïve or stupid, and I have my resources. A liar is only kidding herself.

    I never used to be suspicious, until I found out that my wife was cheating. She of course denied it, then during separation continued to deny being involved with the other man (“Ewwww, No!!!” she said). Then, less than 60 days after our divorce was final, she married him. She could lie right to one’s face and seem totally innocent, thus being the gold standard of lying. She set the bar.

    In a more recent relationship, when things started to appear dishonest, my guard went up. I became suspicious and found definite evidence to support my suspicions. She didn’t even come close to the gold standard. I gave plenty of chances for her to come clean, and she didn’t. Finally, SHE broke things off with the statement “My therapist says I should not be in a relationship with ANYONE.” Then, about 6 weeks after, she entered into another relationship… with the very next guy that came along. I am reasonably sure that she met him afterward. But doesn’t that seem bizarre, and even cowardly? Why lie? Why base a lie on someone else’s opinion, that she felt I could not follow up on? Why not say “I’m sorry, I want to break up. We’re too different and I can’t handle all the differences.” Did she think that I was never going to become wise to the deception?

    What is wrong with these people? Why the dishonesty? Is it to save my feelings? Well, I have news for people like that. Not only do the lies eventually get revealed, but they hurt twice. First for the situation that is being lied about, and second, for having trusted someone who turns out to be a liar.

    A person who enters into a relationship with ME is going to get the truth. I would much rather be open in communication and work through situations honestly, even if it involves breaking up, than to have someone lie to me. If I hurt feelings, at least it will be done with honesty.

    I don’t know if “she” still reads my blog, but I hope she does and sees this. To be fair, no names were used, but she should know who she is (particularly when it comes to the comment about the therapist's opinion). If anyone adds comments, please be fair and do not address a person in particular. I hope it leads her to a new path of honest communication. It's time to grow up. Lies are childish and she is now an adult.

    To her: I already knew (about him) when I made the vague reference about you being involved with the new guy. I was giving you an opportunity to be honest and you did not take it. You even said “Since I have nothing to hide…” and then lied. I couldn’t believe it, yet, there it was! You will never have a lasting relationship if this is how you conduct your life. Unfortunately, I will never have a lasting relationship either, because my world seems to be full of women just like you.

    I would love to live in a different world.

    Friday, December 18, 2009

    Bushed from de-bushing.

    If you've been following along here or on my FaceBook page, you know I'm restoring a piano. Right now, just about every task is repeated 88 times, but there are some things, like repairing 2 broken keys, that aren't...and those are nice diversions.

    Currently I am "de-bushing" all the keys. Under the front of each key is a hole that sits on a pin when installed in the keyboard "tray". The hole is oblong and the pin is round. The oblong hole allows for a pivoting motion when the key is played. Inside the oblong hole, glued to the "long" sides is some thin red felt, and it is called a "bushing". I suppose the felt keeps the key press silent (no wood on metal rubbing. Anyway, a lot of that bushing felt was deteriorated, so I am removing it.

    I can do about 10 keys in a half hour. I clamped a heat gun to my work table and set it on low heat. Then I wave a bushed hole over the heat, about 5 inches away to keep from scorching the wood. This softens the glue. It takes about 15-20 seconds for the glue to soften just right. Then I use a dental tool to pull the felt out. When it cools a little I scrape off most of the glue residue. That's a couple of minutes.

    So far 70 keys have been debushed. Replacement bushing felt will be ordered soon. A roll of it that is enough for all 88 keys is something like 4 bucks. Aluminum wedges, used to insert the new bushing material and hold it in place till the glue dries, cost about 10 bucks. The rest is just time. Not difficult at all and it should make for a quality restoration.

    Friday, December 11, 2009

    Ou sont les serviettes de table?

    OK, enough of that.

    Is it the same for you? Whenever I go to McDonalds they do not just give me napkins anymore. I’m pretty sure that some accountant did some number crunching and decided that a lot of money was just thrown away by either giving away too many napkins, or people taking more than they need. So I imagine that employees have been told “Only give napkins if the customer specifically asks for them.”

    One problem could be those people who take extra napkins just to have in the car or the office. Guilty! However, I don’t throw them away unused. And now, when I am not just given napkins I want to take even more for “just in case.” Did the accountants think about that?

    Monday, December 07, 2009

    88: 12/07/2009

    Late last week I used my air compressor to blow much of the dust off the keys.

    Yesterday I used "Simple Green" to clean all the black keys, then started to scrape remaining glue residue off the white keys, where I had removed the ivory a few years ago.

    In order to glue on the pretty new white plastic keytops, I need to clean the sides of the keys first. I started scraping, but felt that was going to take off too much wood, so I will go back to what I did on about 10 of them before...scrub with bleach. Those that I bleached look really nice. Once I decided that course of action, I felt it was time to stop for the evening. Tonight I will do the bleaching on several more keys and and probably finish the residue scraping. Once the bleached keys dry I can do the final wood prep and glue on the new plastic.

    Pics next time.

    Thursday, December 03, 2009


    ...times who knows what.

    Several years ago I was given a piano. It is a full upright with beautiful mahogany veneer. The finish is messed up, likely due to being stored in basements. I did some research back then and found that it was built in 1910. My plan was to renovate it as well as I could. Well, that was put on hold due to lots of reasons, but my idea was always to have it COMPLETE in 2010 and to rechristen it for a 100 year piano party.

    It’s now time to get busy again if I want to meet that goal. A lot of the work on the keys and hammers can be done in the basement next to the fireplace. I already had 87 of the hammers working and only 2 of the keys need repair. BUT there is a lot of cosmetic work…cleaning, replacing keytops, and replacing felt everywhere. If I can get all that done over the winter, then I can do the cabinet work (stripping, refinishing, fixing broken veneer) in the spring and summer. Would be nice if I got it all done and tuned for a summer or fall party, don’t you think?

    So, last night I set up a worktable in the basement and brought in the keys and hammers. They have gotten really dusty from sitting around and I think some mice chewed up some of the felt. I have to fix 2 broken keys, and a variety of simpler cosmetic wood repairs, and install new white plastic on the white keys (and only clean the blacks).

    In case you don’t know about a piano, it basically consists of 88 copies of 1 working mechanism. That mechanism transfers a key press to a hammer stroke against a wire. There are MANY MANY pieces in just 1 mechanism. That is why I put “88 times who knows what”. You never know what might need fixing or adjusting.

    Will take and post pics as I go. Of particular interest should be the wood repairs.
    Stay "tuned".

    Wednesday, November 18, 2009

    Milestone reached, Christmas 2009

    Yesterday I completed all of the “B” parts for the Christmas gifts, 30 in all. So far there are 22 “A” parts done, so only 8 to go. One of those is ready for the lathe, and for the others I need to mill up the wood and glue into blocks. All should be done some time next week. Still needing pennies. If you have corks and 2009 pennies for me, how about dropping them in the mail for me. I know Mom has 7 pennies and Duane and Cheryl usually have a decent supply of corks.

    There are still a few other things to make, as well, before I close up shop for the cold winter. I think I will be doing work on the piano keys and hammers during the cold months.

    Wednesday, November 11, 2009

    To Everything (turn turn turn)...

    In previous posts (July and October) I mentioned the “things" I am making for Christmas.

    To read those posts:
    Click Here

    and Here.

    At first I wanted to make 20 complete “things” which was 40 turnings. Then it was up to 25 (50 turnings). Now the estimate is up to 30 (60 turnings). I gave myself a break from the lathe for a few weeks but am back at it. So far, I’ve completed 23 part A’s and 20 part B’s, which means only 17 more parts to go. The B’s are simpler…I turned out 4 of them yesterday alone. If I keep at it, I should have it all done in time for Christmas.

    Stay turned…I mean tuned.