Saturday, January 31, 2015

Friday, January 30, 2015


     It was early.  Well, early-ish.  I'd managed to feed the cats without quite breaking the surface of the pool of sleep, then crawled back into bed, tumbling down, down into the deliciously-warm darkness of the land of That Horrible Sound You Sometimes Wake Up Making That Can't Possibly Be Snoring, Can It?  A distressingly-chipper Tam entered and I woke up midway through whatever it was she was saying:

      "....going to get some of those guzza skanax?  You want some?  Like on TV?"

     Me, squintingly, "Yeah?  Sure?"

     "Yum, the guntsa scanniks!  Back soon!"  And she whirled away as I sank back once more into the delightful nothingness behind my eyelids.

     I woke up suddenly a few minutes ago, wide, wide awake.

     I have no idea where Tam went or what she's bringing back.

     I hope it's good.  Guzda czenits?

     ETA: Tam explains.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Yankee 1530: It's Magical!

You can just about read this. Click for bigger.
   It seems magical, at least.  At first glance, it looks like an ordinary hand-cranked drill and when I bought it (ostensibly as part of a set, but that's a tale for Retrotechnologist, by and by), that's exactly what I thought it was.

     It's not.  As the close-up image shows, there's something going on between the upper and lower bevel gears, something that includes a little gearshift similar to the one found on "Yankee" push-driven screwdrivers.  But where those only have three positions -- forward, locked and reverse -- this has five.

     In PLAIN, it works like any other drill.
     L.H. RATCHET makes it run only counterclockwise.  Turn the crank the other way and the chuck stays put.
     R.H. does the opposite: The drill only turns counterclockwise.
     LOCKED conveniently locks up the whole works, making loosening and tightening the chuck an easy operation.
     But I skipped one.  Here's the magic: select R. H. DOUBLE and it doesn't make any difference which way to turn the crank: the chuck always turns clockwise, with nary a hitch as you change the direction of the driving gear!

     There doesn't seem to have been a lot of use for this functionality, but if you needed it, there were no substitutes and North Brothers Manufacturing (and later Stanley) built this one and a larger size for many years.
A slightly wider view of the 1530
     The hollow handle unscrews with a nice threaded metal collar instead of the usual wood-on-wood threads (see above) to hold a set of small drills (the drills are missing from this one).  The original design was weak, especially when separated, and was modified a few years in for greater strength, resulting in the 1530A.  Finding a plain 1530 in as nice shape as this one is a stroke of luck.

Socialized Medicine?

     Look, all methods of providing medical care have problems; if there was a perfect system, everyone would be using it.  But this headline points up a problem in trying to centrally plan something that is inherently unpredictable:

     Patient walks into radio station in hospital gown after operation cancelled at last minute

     Yep.   That's what happened -- after the third time her surgery was rescheduled due to lack of hospital resources.

     I haven't got any sure-fire answers; I'm not even sure of all the questions, but that's not what anyone wants from any health care system.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

"Save The Furnace" Bleg Officially Over

     ...Due to literally overwhelming generosity, I'm ending the request to tip Tam.  I'm bowled over; I have no words and yet you all deserve whatever of 'em can be mustered.

     Many of us -- me and Tamara and a lot of you -- have put $10 or $20 in someone else's tip jar if we had it to spare when they were hurting.  You do it and you move on.

     Tam's tip jar runneth over this morning.  The board is bought.  The furnace tech's labor is paid.  ...And a very nice reader decided we'd better shop for mattresses, too.

     You are an amazing, wonderful bunch of folks -- of friends.

     My thanks and Tam's thanks to each and every one of you.  I'll be a long time paying this forward, but I'm darned well gonna; and I'll think of all of you each time I do.

     At times blogging feels strange and lonely; you wake up in the morning and you write some stuff you hope wil interest others, and sometimes they comment...but you rarely know.  You go read what other people have to say about their life, their observations, and that's interesting, too.  And there's a thread of a connection.  But today, right now?  I can see the web of mutual exchange, of value and of empathy, and it's huge.

     Y'all are awesome.  Thank you.  Thank you.

Thank You!

     Tamara and I are overwhelmed by the response of readers and bloggers to this morning's furnace problems at Roseholme Cottage.

     Your kind gifts have made a huge difference -- and we will pay them forward.

A Morning Of Unexpected Expen$e

     The alarming odor that awoke me early this morning?  A component or components on the controller board for our furnace, with its nifty safety features, multi-speed blower, etc.

     And the furnace tech has just informed me that the replacement board is $550.  That's right, Five Hundred Fifty Dollars, American.  ...That's my money for a new mattress...that I didn't actually have and was putting off the purchase of therefore.

     I'm unhappy.  I might be able to fix the bad board myself, if it's stupid enough and if the active components aren't bespoke and don't have their identifying marks obscured.*   What I can't do is warrant that it'll have the same reliability and safety as the OEM part.  These days, that counts on matters like insurance.  It's why there's probably no "core credit" for the old board, too.

     It's galling to write this but -- Tam's got a tip jar.  I'm in a bind; the recent (and necessary) used-car purchase has my finances strained.  I can pay for this but it's gonna be costly money.  ETA: Your absolutely staggering response has solved this problem.  Completely.  I'm gobsmacked.  My attempt to begin to say thanks will be found a couple of posts on. 
* Diodes, transistors and integrated circuits use a somewhat-scattershot assortment of European, JEDEC, trade-association and manufacturer's numbers that usually resolve down to one of a few thousand replacement parts per component type.  A competent electronics tech can usually find them.  But some makers remove the numbers and others -- big, vertically-integrated operations, mostly -- build their own parts and often won't sell them.  Passive components like resistors, capacitors and (less so) inductors are marked with common color codes or simple numeric shorthand.  Transformers?  Yeah, good luck with that.  Most OEM ones have nothing other than not-very-informative color-coded leads.

A Morning Of Worries

     Furnace may be acting up.  Repair tech expected by 8:30.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

They Call Him "Father Of The Constitution"

     This, too is true of the man:
     Make of it what you will.

Spot The Problem

     Found in the Prohibition exhibit at the Indiana State Museum, in the portion dealing with the efforts to ban liquor.  Can you identify the problem with this document?
     I'm of two minds about revealing the answer.

Monday, January 26, 2015

I'm On Vacation

     More or less on vacation -- as "more" as I can make it, despite getting a weekend day trimmed from each end.  Sunday, I celebrated with a sausage omelet:
     Sweet Italian sausage, a little extra Italian seasoning, shallots and chives, a little diced Hungarian peppers, a dash of paprika, some Colby Jack cheese to try to hold the ends together.  Turned out very tasty.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

This Is Not A Battery Charger

     It will, however, melt your battery or your starter into a heap of glowing slag.  Assuming you have the 480 Volts at 12 Amperes to feed it, anyway.  Which you probably don't.

     Word to the wise: this one had aluminum lugs on it.  That might not be the best of ideas.  Eventually, they start to get, well, melty.  This would be bad anywhere but it's worse when they're a fifth of a mile away.  A fifth of a mile, straight up.