Sunday, July 29, 2012

Jury-Rigging household skills

All right. I fully admit that, between Calmer Half and myself, if a half-disassembled carburetor appeared on the kitchen table - I'd be the culprit. Why yes, that was an oil filter cutter serving double duty as a paperweight until it could go out to the hangar. Still, I can cook, clean, and mop up with the best of housewives.

On the other hand, when it came time to repair a fraying hole in my work shorts, I had to screw up my brain and think... "What would Jeannie do?"

I may have some talents and creativity - but I have lived with a woman who can mentally design and sew a dress from scratch and fabric scraps in time to inform me "You unexpectedly got the night of the costume ball off? No backing out for lack of dress for you! Stand there for the final fitting, and put this on!"

So I pondered, and then headed to the craft store, where I found a heat-bond adhesive I've seen her use, and carefully cut scraps of denim from a ragged pair of shorts past saving to patch size. (Did you know you have to buy fabric by the yard - unlike Aircraft Spruce & Specialty, they don't seem to sell dollar patches in the fabric section.)

Everything looks like a go for assembling and repair. Except - I don't have a clothes iron to set to "medium, no steam." ...Or... wait...

One run to the hangar later, the hobby iron that shrunk my doped fabric was pressed into service. Guess I'll soon find out why the instructions kept stating "Do NOT use your wife's iron on your aircraft project!"

For now, I can wear these shorts in to work tomorrow. Yay! I'm no Jeannie, but she's taught me enough to survive in a pinch.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Once upon a time, after the echoes of the dinosaur footsteps had faded but before the internet, the Good Idea Fairy struck my school like a ICBM with a payload of weapons-grade stupidity. I came home, rather excited, because my teacher had announced that we weren't going to have to do any of that boring and pointless memorization stuff - no multiplication tables, no periodic table of the elements, no learning to write in cursive.

No, we were learning New Math, and all I had to do was figure out how to make the teacher think I felt good about learning in order to make a grade. Emotional manipulation with a "self-esteem" jargon? I have two X chromosomes; I was born for that! School was going to go from kinda easy but boring to a fun time figuring out just how much I could shovel BS and make fun of my teacher without getting caught!

My mother and father didn't seem to think this was a great plan. That Saturday morning, my father rousted me out of bed, and hauled me off to the track. "I need to stay in shape for PT, and you need to memorize your multiplication tables. Your mission is to chant the entire multiplication table to twelve times twelve while you pace me around the track."

"But dad, teacher says they're pointless!"

"I don't care what your teacher says. I'm your father. You WILL pace me and go through the entire multiplication table before you get breakfast." Dad has this way of using a soft voice and a dead-level tone to make people with shiny bits on their collars and chevrons on their sleeves decide to obey immediately - and they weren't even under threat of getting spanked! I knew this conversation was going nowhere fast, and was likely to turn out even worse if I pushed than the time he told me "fair" was a bogus word and I was not to use it in his hearing again.

"...yes sir."

I don't even remember the teacher from that school. I do remember many mornings of thinking hard while in motion, the dew on the grass, crunch of gravel underfoot, stitch in my side trying to keep up mentally and physically. There is no such thing as fair, eleven times eleven is 121, Yttrium comes after Strontium (both of which ignite on contact with air), excuses are never an acceptable substitute for success, if you aren't killed by a depleted uranium round, a wet bandanna over the face will filter out most of the trash from getting in your lungs, never disparage your cooks, janitors, or secretaries, twelve times six is 72, the noble gasses are largely inert without a lot of work, wear tall boots in rattlesnake country, keep your finger off the trigger until you're ready to make your shot, never say "can't" when you mean "don't want to", and twelve times twelve is 144, which is a gross, but not the same as gross profit.

Thanks, dad. You taught me more than I'll ever be able to say.

I love you, too.

Friday, July 6, 2012

It all works out

Went to check out a new range. Friends and Calmer Half were all busy (or napping), so I went by myself. In bending over and rustling through stuff, I didn't notice the car keys falling into a bag before I locked the door.

So, I'm locked out of my car, with several hours until Calmer Half will get my message... with a PMR-30, a brick of ammo, a handful of targets, and a gun store adjacent full of more ammo and targets, a wallet that can buy more...

I'm sure somebody would have been stressed out by this situation, but it sure wasn't me!

(Keeping track of rimfire for Matthew's project: 130 rounds, CCI .22 WMR, no misfires.)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Too much fun

While there may be no such thing as having too much fun, I've definitely been having too much fun for the past week to have time to really sit and share it. Calmer Half, Tam, Roberta, and Brigid are all masters of the thinking in blog posts (or at least close enough to make quick posts during lulls in the day), but I tend to sit and think on things a while. Unfortunately, I've been having so much fun that the store of things to post about is piling up like the not-urgent mail stack.

Mammoth Caves is definitely a place I'd want to [be more fit and] take a week to explore - it's not something you can even begin to know in a couple hours, with hundreds of hidden places, stunning sights, and adventures that are just a little further away than you can get to now. That's also a fairly apt metaphor for meeting friends in Indianapolis, too, come to think of it. Like many interesting, independent, strong and skilled people, Brigid is a friend whom I have delighted in knowing for years. However, our times actually together are so brief, vivid and intense as we try to share everything that the internet cannot covey - body language, the sparkle of eyes at a joke, the impish grin when selecting ingredients and inspiration for dinner, the teasing lilt in a voice as a jar of espresso sugar is held out to "You know you want a sniff." I could spend decades in her company and still learn new surprises and new jokes as we make new memories and share older ones.

"To see a world in a grain of sand," Blake once wrote, and indeed, out of the billions on this planet, wandering through Artisano's, brunching at Zest, or sharing fries at Brugge, is a mere speck - but it is a world I dearly enjoy. And the time we spend together, fast as those days fly by before we hug goodbye, is held precious in my mind when the same amount if time spent over weeks of getting ready for work and commuting will all run together and be forgotten. Memory is not infinite or eternal, but I do my best to hold it as such, as he said "To see eternity in an hour."

I could talk about the hippie store, and the food, but the important parts were the way that hippie store's excellent chocolate saved the mood when stuck on a closed highway on the way back, or the laughter while we all shared the fries and anecdotes. It's not the dog fur, it's the way Barkley conned a sleepy Calmer Half into a walk at 4am (better not to ask.)

I miss 'em, and look forward to the next visit. Some nice weather day when I have time enough, I need to show up in a Taylorcraft, with a "will fly for food" sign. Barkley will share the couch for the toll of a stolen shoe, I'm sure. Till then, stay safe, my friends.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Celebrating Independence Day!

I believe in the United States of America, as a government of the people, by the people, for the people whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic; a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.

I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.

--William Tyler Page, The American's Creed

Go read BlackFive, who says it far more eloquently than I can. Then go celebrate our existence in this paradise, (even with its warts) that we have created, are creating, and shall yet fight to create for all our future.

Happy Fourth of July!