Friday, September 24, 2010

So much

Wow, I haven't posted in forever... I've been thinking about posting but just never getting to it.

We've been so crazy busy lately. Last weekend we went to a gathering of Coleman enthusiasts. Just over a year ago I got my first Coleman lantern and last weekend I went to see 180 (4 of which were mine) lit up at the same time... I spent a record $120 on 2 lanterns (one is my birthday lantern, meaning it was made on my birthday) a lamp (too cool) and an awesome radiant heater.

The weekend before last we had the ChowdaQ 2010 gathering of Mercedes enthusiasts in RI. That night we stayed with our friends Dwight and Karen and had a lovely time out on their patio where I managed to get Dwight's old Coleman lantern working.

I can't remember what we did the weekend before that but I'm sure there was something... This weekend we're celebrating Angie's dad's birthday and I'm flying out to Burbank where I'll teach next week.

Throughout all of this I've been working on our bathroom. The tile is nearly finished in part thanks to a tile saw I rented from Home Depot. All the difficulties I was having accurately cutting tile disappeared with the tile saw. Next time I do tiles I'll buy a tile saw, its worth its weight in gold. The next time I do tile work I'll buy a tile saw, the HD one was $50 a day, Harbor Freight has a cheapie for $50... Anyway the bathroom is nearly done, just need to do the small section around the window, maybe 20 more tiles most of which I've already cut. I'd hoped to do it this week but I was tired after last weekend and my class this week has been REALLY slow so I'll finish the tiles tomorrow and grout when I get back from California. Hopefully I can also finish the siding outside tomorrow, 3 months is too long for a project like this. That said having done this once I could do it again in a long weekend. Good thing, now I want to tile the backsplash around out kitchen. One more place I can eliminate fake wood paneling.

Ahh, what else, oh! Buster got bit while we were at the Coleman gathering. Duke, our host's Boston terrier bit Buster on the ear. It was late, we didn't arrive until after 10pm and Duke was tired from all the excitement. When he went after Buster Angie and I made the fatal error of trying to pull Buster away which resulted in the bite probably being worse than it would have been. Boy did it bleed! In the end we took him to a 24 hour vet where they glued the wound closed and bandaged him up.

Which worked well, the problem we'd had was that we couldn't control the ear and he'd shake and break the wound open spraying blood everywhere... We kept the bandage on for 24 hours at which point he was pretty depressed, fortunately he came out of it pretty quickly... Then the other day he shook his head and again broke the wound open. Angie took him to the vet who glued it back together, then she found some bandages that would stick to Buster's fur and will hopefully protect the wound long enough for it to heal, we will see...

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Angie and I stopped at a yard sale today. We'd gone about all the way through when there was a thump a screech and a cry. I turned in time to see a motorcycle flop over discharging its rider before it slid from view.

Before I knew what was going on my cellphone was in my hand calling 911. What I didn't realize is that when you call 911 from a cell phone you get the State Police. What ensued was a probably not terribly coherent explanation of the accident from me and a fairly poor response from the dispatcher. We finally arrived at where I was and which ambulance service should be dispatched and the ambulance arrived fairly quickly.

I'm not really sure what happened in the accident other than a Jeep seemed to be involved. My theory now is that the driver of the Jeep was turning into the yard sale but didn't see the motorcycle and either tapped him or forced him to take an evasive maneuver which he was not prepared for and thus the fall.

The guy laid face down on the pavement not moving for what seemed like a long time. People rushed over while I was on the phone and when I was done there was quite a crowd. I directed traffic on one side of the road for a little while and could hear folks telling the motorcyclist not to move at which point he started moaning. In retrospect the fact that his moans didn't scare me makes me think they were healthy "I'm still alive and wish to continue so" moans. I've heard the other kind before and don't really ever want to hear them again, although that person lived too.

Anyway, the ambulance arrived, closed off the road, got the dude onto a backboard at which point he was moving his head (danger, danger, danger!) . Other than the fact that his shoes were shredded to the point his toes had road rash I don't think he came out of it too badly. Still pretty scary and now that the adrenaline hit has worn off I'm really really tired.

Be careful out there.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Samantha is one of the coolest people I know, she's also the largest person I know, well over half again my weight. Actually in January she was over double my weight, but heres the thing, she's on a mission to lose it and her method is to publicly out herself, she's started a blog in which she actually posted the numbers. Thats the wow part, not what the number is but that she had the guts to post it...

So here we go, I'm 6 feet tall, I weight ~207 (206 and change yesterday morning) which according to the charts is ~40 pounds over weight. I think the charts are crazy at 165 I'd be skinny as a rail. I was about to write that I don't want that but honestly I've never been skinny as a rail and I have no idea what it'd be like...

When I got out of college in '99 I was around 210-215. When I started my second job after college in 2001 I was more like 250... Its taken me almost 10 years to get rid of that weight so I know what Samantha is up against.

My goal is to get under 200, I don't have the slightest idea the last time I was that light, early in high school I'd guess. "under 200" isn't a very good goal so for practical purposes I'm saying 190. I'm down ~4 pounds this year and I've got 17 more to go!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Another lantern repaint

Bought a Coleman 237 some time ago, the 237 is cool because its a big kerosene lantern, at 500cp (candlepower) its one of the brightest lanterns around. On eBay they generally go for $50 or more even for dirty non-working ones.
So I spotted this one, not many pics, no glass, wrong gas cap, some rust and corrosion. Won the bid for $42. Thats more than I would normally bid but it was in Maine so the shipping would be cheap. It was right around $50 total. Then the guy emails me, the fount (thats the tank part) has a hole in it and leaks. After some discussion he refunded $20 and I took it hole and all.

$15.50 won me 3 other whitegas lanterns, a 220E, 228E and 220F. The 220E and 228E use the same size fount as the 237. I figured for that money if I got the 220F running I could sell it for maybe $20, fix my 237 and have a 228E for free.

The 237 fount really was trash, big chunks of rust in the fount, pinhole leak right in the center. Its a steel base, I probably could weld it but it'll doubtless leak other places. Considering these are under pressure that seems insanely dangerous. I'll keep it, maybe I can weld it into some kind of art project...

I took the 220E apart and instantly remembered why I generally only do single mantle lanterns, the duals are way harder to disassemble. The fount is okay but had a couple dents and loads of pits. I filled the dents with JB Weld which is a mistake because it shrinks and is very hard when dry. Thus you need to overfill the dent and then cut it down to the correct profile which is tough because the stuff is hard. Live and learn I guess. One dent I later filled with regular old Bondo which is much easier because it doesn't shrink as much and is soft for the first few hours.

So then paint and paint and paint. I decided to use primer to fill some of the pits. That works but is the pits to do since you need about a million coats AND since the fount has a Coleman rising sun stamping on the side I didn't want to lose I had to keep sanding most of the primer off and then occasionally using a wire brush to clean out the stamping. Next time I'll fill all the pits with Bondo before priming.

Anyway right now its got color on (Krylon's "Dark Hunter Green"), it needs two more coats topside, and 3 on the bottom, then I'll cut and polish and do a clearcoat which should give it that prized depth of shine.

Sunday shave

During the week I shave with an electric razor. Angela got me a nice cordless one for my birthday and it does a pretty good job. I don't let my whiskers grow for two reasons, one they get quite itchy and two I can't grow much of a beard... I'm not the only one in my family with this issue but its something I inherited from my mother's side. At best I get a patchy, bumpy, weird looking high schooler kind of abomination so off the hairs must go.

While the electric does an acceptable job "as close as a blade" is not the truism one might expect, or rather if you're a skeptic like me its exactly what you'd expect. True shaving takes time though and since I like my sleep I only really shave on Sunday. I usually do it in the afternoon, what Douglas Adams called "The long dark teatime of the soul" when I don't really have anything else to do anyway.

If I haven't shaved on Saturday (which I usually haven't) I'll do a quick job with the electric. Its not really required but means the razor won't clog as much. Then I start the sink filling with hot water, while I'm waiting on that I lay out my razor, shaving mug and brush. My razor isn't anything exciting just a disposable, "Preserve" brand. Its not really the razor that makes Sunday shaving satisfying its the soap. Until this year I'd always used some sort of aerosol shaving cream. Even the best shaving creams leave me with some level of razor burn. In a strange fit of schizophrenia Angela also bought me a shaving mug, soap and a brush for my birthday (same birthday she bought me the electric razor...) so once the water is mostly full I dip the brush in the water and start stirring the soap.

Its a bar of soap, just like any bar soap, and I stir the top of it with the brush until it lathers, then brush that on my face. The warmth of the soap is great as is the feel of the brush, no aerosol can come close. The razor glides painlessly across my face and the hairs are gone like magic.

If you hate shaving and you haven't used shaving soap get out and get some. I've no idea why I didn't learn this one sooner but better late than never...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Somtimes things just come together

So what with taking the motorcycle apart for the starter problem I figured I'd tackle the trip meter that refuses to reset. It turns out thats a teeny tiny piece of plastic thats broken and while removable replacement parts are not available. Also broken is the needle on the tachometer.
Yes thats right the needle. Angie and I went for a ride one time, we stopped for a break and when I next looked half of the tach needle was missing. Its in the casing if I removing the tach I can see the needle bit floating around inside.

I've been searching for a replacement tach for a long time. A tach for a CB900K is easy to get but apparently the CB900f is rare enough that they don't come up frequently. So it was a big surprise the other night to find one on eBay... The guy wanted $99 plus $15 shipping. $100 is a big psychological barrier for me... So I offered $75 which I was surprised to see accepted within 15 minutes, sweet!

Anyway 2010 looks like its going to be a good year for my Honda.

Friday, April 16, 2010


Whew, nothin for a month and then I'm all putting up 2 posts in one day...

So its spring again which means motorcycle time. We've been having some really nice weather so I pulled out the mighty '82 Honda CB900f Super Sport and prepped. The choke handle on that has been messed up for years (well the 7 years I've had it anyway) and would retract itself, so you had to stand around holding the cable while starting. A new cable was cheap (last year!) and I finally got around to putting it in. Not a hard job but fiddly. I also replaced the spark plugs. The old ones didn't look bad but I figured after 7 years it was time...

Drained last years gas out of the tank and with 2 gallons of fresh high test I hit the button. Well first off for the last year or two the starter has been getting a little recalcitrant, meaning it slips and grinds and is generally unpleasant. Strangely it hasn't gotten better by itself but after an eternity of fits and starts I got the bike started but it only ran on 2 cylinders. This is not an unknown condition and usually means one of the ignition "computers" is gone wonky. In the past unplugging and replugging of them fixes the issue and they're handy to get at so I did so. Problem is that the starter is so annoying I never got to see if the reseating of cables had helped...

So I tore the left side cover off the engine to look at the starter. This releases most of the engine oil btw... No obvious damage to the starter, its gear, the idler gear or the driven gear... Strange. I pulled the starter which is not a terribly fun job, theres not much room there and could find nothing obviously wrong with it. It would appear its been rebuilt at some time in the past as the case is scraped up and the screws are all munged from some hamfisted dis-assembly.

Did some searching online (praise mother internet!) and found that the three bolts that hold the starter clutch can come loose. Checked and sure enough they ARE loose. Now I need to source some red locktite, pull the thing over the clutch, pull the three bolts, clean and reassemble with locktite so they don't come loose again... All in all quite positive. I also ordered the two seals for the outer covers. It would appear a previous owner did not source new seals (really a seal and a gasket) as they're glued in with copious amounts of sealant.

While I was at it I ordered new front turn signals for Angie's Kawasaki, I noticed one had broken over the winter. The starter on that bike is also getting fiddly, it probably needs a similar fix...

Stupid Verizon

Verizon sure wants to sell maintenance contracts but that somehow makes me want to cancel my service...
So every time it rains our phone service goes out. Dead air, no dial tone, busy signal if you try to call in. DSL still works and as thats the same line it seems reasonable to assume the problem is not within our house... Verizon's automated system doesn't want to hear about that though, they want me to know that since I don't have a maintenance plan it might cost $91 just to get somebody to my house.

The good thing is they can be here tomorrow. The bad thing is that he'll be here between 9am and 4pm and I need to be here to let him in...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I've been getting survey calls lately. Generally they're right wing political surveys among the questions:

Do you consider yourself a Republican? No
Do you consider yourself a Democrat? Not particularly, no.

I'm sure they have no idea what to make of me back at survey headquarters. The thing is that I don't see the world in such a black and white Republican/Democrat kind of way.

For one thing I'm generally fiscally conservative and pro small government. On the other hand I recognize the need for social programs...
I'm pro choice but I'm also pro gun.
I'm for fast cars but I think we should raise fuel economy standards.
I'm against drilling in ANWAR but I think nukes are probably a good idea.

I'm all for wind power even if it means wind turbines obscure some rich bastard's view a little bit. but I realize it isn't going to solve our energy needs.

I find it interesting that both sides will assume you're with them and they are RIGHT. That your reading their propaganda (and make no mistake it is propaganda) means that you automatically agree. Which I think means something about the real usefulness of propaganda but I'll let you think about that one on your own.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The manifesto of done

Bre Pettis used to do the weekend projects for Make magazine. While the stuff he did was light and breezy he's got some pretty cool ideas including the Cult of Done and it's manifesto.
I'm a maker.
I tend to do and then think.
I don't sit still well.
I'm constantly thinking about whats next.
I screw up a lot.
I have loads of projects.

Very few of my projects will ever be finished but after reading the manifesto of done I feel better about it.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Just having no luck lately, been trying to pick up a lantern cheap and it isn't happening.
First was the AGM on Craigslist, he wanted $75 but came down to $40 and then disappeared.

Then a Bialaddin on eBay, research showed it might go cheap but it sure didn't. Neither have 2 different Coleman 237s.

Finally a Coleman Quicklite in what looked like very nice condition (with a very nice price) came up on Craigslist and though I responded quickly it was gone...

Oh well. I found that theres a pawnshop in Keene, may have to take a ride and see what its all about.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

So I was wrong

In going back through and making sure my posts have good tags I found: A stupid post where I'm absolutely sure theres nothing wrong with my heart...

That was November 3, 2009, I suffered with chest pains for almost 3 months before finally getting it fixed.

The take away lesson here is to not decide you know whats wrong based on what you HOPE is wrong. If I'd kept and open mind about the possibility of heart disease I could have been feeling better sooner.

Apparently one of the things that made General Washington so good at his job was his ability to see things as they were rather than as he would wish them to be. Smart guy that George Washington.

Friday, February 19, 2010


Every morning at 7:30 my Blackberry buzzes and the screen reminds me "PILLS!".
I take 3 pills in the morning and one in the evening before bed.

Prasugrel, this is a blood thinner. It keeps clots from forming in my stents. Realistically I'm one clot away from dead. My first month was free thanks to the good folks at Eli Lilly, I've about finished that first month so we'll find out how good my insurance really is...

Hydrochlorothiazide, also called HCTZ, this is a "water pill" which lowers my blood pressure. I'm currently taking 25mg but I think the next time I see my doc we'll see about pushing this back to 12mg since my BP is running at normal or just below.

Asprin, good old acetylsalicylic acid originally derived from willow bark. Another blood thinner, its also anti-inflammatory and fortunately my stomach tolerates it well.

Simvastatin, statins are cholesterol lowering. I'm at 40mg which I'm given to understand is a lot. My last cholesterol test was 150 which is very low, normal people can be around 200, us stent patients want to be down around 170. Unfortunately my good cholesterol is very low too at 24, it wants to be more like 70 I guess... With luck added exercise will bring that number up, my last cholesterol test was 1 week after surgery so I hadn't been exercising at all, in fact I'd been actively avoiding exercise...

So thats the pharmaceutical team at work keeping me alive. Of the 4 meds the really important one is prasugrel, the docs all say something like "Keep taking the blood thinner until taken off it by your cardiologist or God". As a friend said the first you shouldn't argue with and the second you can't...

Friday, February 5, 2010

A visit to the cardiologist

Met with my cardiologist today. The nice thing is that from now on nobody is going to want to see or poke that tender spot in my groin for awhile. Such a relief... Its a weird feeling to have people come in at all hours, pull the covers down and start poking around.
They call it "the groin" but the entrance site is really right where your leg meets your body, just inboard of the crease. Its a lousy place to have a wound because it has to move so much when you move around. If I walk around a lot it sort of pinches after awhile. Monday at work is going to be fun...

Anyway today's visit was pretty perfunctory, we went over my mix of meds (an blood thinner, aspirin, my blood pressure pill, and a statin to lower cholesterol) and he emphasized once again that I can't stop taking the blood thinner for anybody but a cardiologist or God... Thats heavy right?
The deal is that if I stop I'll probably develop a blood clot around the stent and have a heart attack. Not something I'm into so I'm religiously taking the pills.

After our little talk he cleared me for any activities I want and suggested I go to cardiac rehab at the hospital. They'll put me on some kind of exercise regimen and help with figuring out my new diet. Angie and I have already made some diet changes and I'm going to try to start hitting the treadmill at work. I'm going to give myself a week, if I can get myself on some kind of regimen on my own I'll skip rehab, if I can't I'll go.

I felt so good that when I came home I scraped the snow off the walk, its just light fluffy stuff that we've walked on, not serious labor but now I'm BUSHED...

This is really one of the last days I can allow myself a nap so I'm going to.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

242C in its glory!

Done and done... After many hours stripping paint and polishing the nickle I had to say that good enough is good enough. I put the 242C back together this morning, finished some bits and bobs like the fuel cap and this afternoon tied on a mantle and lit it up.

Thats a Peerless #24 mantle which is a Coleman #99 equivalent. I'd read that you can use a #99 in a 200A to get more light so I figured I'd give it a shot here. I don't like it, it seems very yellow and not as bright as it should be. Its hard to judge in daylight though. I'll try it again at night and see what I think then.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Would you believe?

The formerly blue 242C fount has been polished up for awhile now waiting for me to get around to reassembling. Putting the valve back in is a big first step...
It took awhile to get all the blue off and not lose the ICCC sticker. You can see in the pic where I damaged the sticker a little but overall I'm pleased with how this came out. I think I'm going to have to get the vent re-porcelined to go with how nice the fount is. Overall a guy buy at $15 I think...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

College Days

So I'm teaching at Emerson College in Boston for a couple days.
Its been almost 11 years since I graduated from college. I went to a little state school and Emerson is like 2 or 3 times its size but...

Nothing has changed. Other than having classes in this enormous building just off Boston Common its exactly what I remember. Kind of scary actually...