Monday, May 17, 2010


The weekend is over.
  • Friday was windy. No surprise there. I got a load of water and the car wouldn't start when I prepared to return home. A large water truck was behind me and he agreed to tow me forward out of the way. I hooked up a tow strap and tried to start it again as he pulled around in front of me. It started. Hmmm? Second time in three days. I need to check on this.

  • Saturday began with a delayed trip to town to get materials. The plan was to be in town by 7 AM but as I hooked up the trailer I noticed a low tire on the Explorer. The cause was a screw which was easy to fix but put us behind schedule. In town we stopped for gas and the car wouldn't start! Fortunately I was facing down grade on a slight incline with no one in front of me and was able to let it roll forward to start it. I dropped Julie off at the grocery and picked up materials. The car started. We got home, carried in the groceries and I went out to unload the trailer. When I tried to start the car it did nothing. Once again I used a hillside starter.

  • On Saturday I framed a small structure to protect two propane cylinders. Last weekend I poured a small slab using cement and crushed glass. This weekend I planned on framing the building and installing used corrugated metal siding. As I was working I noticed the auto-switching regulator changing to the second tank. Coincidence! I had estimated three months per cylinder. I connected to the tank on February 14 and it emptied on May 15. (Three weeks ago or so Julie phoned requesting pickup of the 250 gallons rental tank. We're still waiting.)

  • On Sunday I decided I had to do something to fix the Explorer since the problem had become permanent and it wouldn't start. A few quick tests and I decided it had to be the starter. I removed the starter which took two hours! The bottom bolt and ground cable were easy unlike the top bolt and electrical connections. I could see the top bolt with one eye and get one hand on it. After a few tries I settled on the best wrench and began the slow process to break loose eleven years of dirt and corrosion. As I worked I wondered about a guy lost to history. Someone had to be the first person to decide that open ended wrenches need to be offset by fifteen degrees. Turn a bolt until the tool hits the frame, flip the wrench over and repeat the process. Slow but effective. He was a smart guy. Anyway, I got the starter off, went to town, bought a rebuilt starter, returned home and installed it. Five hours and $140 later the car started. Good deal. By this time next year I hope to have a work building under construction -- smooth concrete floor, a creeper, a floor jack, a CD player, tool boxes and work benches along the walls. Yes, I'm still young enough to lust.

  • On Sunday evening we were waiting for a guest for supper so I began drawing plans for two cold frames. I decided to angle the lids at 35 degrees since we are at 35 degrees north latitude. Knowing the size of the glass and frame lid I had to calculate the depth (front to back) of the bottom and ends which would not be as deep. Simple trigonometry. I haven't done trig in many, many years and don't have a clue where I've stored my CRC (Chemical Rubber Company) book of tables. (I bought the book in high school and it has too much sentimental value.) I hit the web and looked up the sine of 55 degrees (not 35) and learned the value is 0.819152044. Use it or lose it. I've forgotten so much. Sometime in the future I plan on taking a class in physics which I had in high school but not college. After yesterday's experience I think I need to retake geometry, trig and calculus before physics.

  • It was beautiful weather on Saturday and Sunday. No wind and temperatures in the low eighties. Lots of hummingbirds and Orioles. Saw the second snake of the season. Worked a few hours in the garden. Read some essays in Sapolsky's The Trouble with Testosterone but haven't come to the essay on testosterone as yet.
It was a good weekend in our dry, dusty paradise.


Blogger graceonline said...

One of the things I love about the Internet is how it lets ordinary people like me have glimpses into the every day lives of other people, like you, and to learn from one another. It seems, instead of becoming increasingly frustrated with the situation and the time it was taking, the difficulty of getting that bolt off, you chose to feel gratitude for the man who figured a way to fix machinery in the tightest of spots. It's as if the work became a meditation. What a lesson for us all.

And what a good idea, to use crushed glass for the aggregate in your concrete platform. Innovative, resourceful, and thrifty all at once. No fuel wasted carting all that glass to the recycler, where it would be shipped even further.

5/17/2010 05:25:00 PM  

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