Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Way of the Wrench - note the 'r'

For you Robert Jordan fans out there, I am sure that you recognize this title as a corruption of 'The Way of the Leaf', the pacifistic and fatalistic philosophy of the Tinkers the 'Eye of the World' series of books.

Pacifism and Fatalism are two philosophies that have great value when repairing cars.

Fatalism is good because it prevents any finger pointing at previous owners/operators/car salesman etc. On coming to full realization of the screwed up mess that you are trying to fix, it is much better for your blood pressure and spiritual purity (Ok, Ok, work with me on this one...) to say that this car was fated to go through the trials and abuse that it did, and to end up in my driveway. It was destiny.

Pacifism is good as it keeps the anger down when you realize that the two small bolts you have left were supposed to fasten the rear main seal to the back of the engine block, and yes, now you have to take the car all apart again, split the engine and transmission and wheedle those bolts into the holes. Pacifism teaches us not to use weapons, and not to make our tools into weapons.....and going back to Fatalism, it was Fated that I would forget those bolts, and probably a Cosmic Lesson in Patience.

Yes, I have taken up the Wrench again. I know that the Scriptures say that those that use the Wrench will perish by the Wrench...... or was that sword. No matter, either one can be a fine weapon/tool at need.

Tonight I was not diligent in my duties. The Nurse's ex-Neon is on blocks and is Fated to receive a new head to stop the oil leaking into the coolant. (Note that no finger pointing can be directed at the Nurse..... but some at the used car salesman that probably knew what was up with this car....) Fated I say...... Now if I can just help fate along a little each night after work. The reward will come when it is back together, and I see Guitar Boy heading off up the street, blowing the horn and starting the rest of his life.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Watch Maker

Click on 'The Watch Maker Title'. This is pretty cute. A very nice distillation of the issue. I hope you all like it.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Armed Forces Day Concert

Saturday we were able to come to SLC and spend a few minutes with the Nurse, the Rooster and the Little Stinker.... and really that should be changed to the Little Charmer. Happy Birthday little guy. Very much fun. Pixie came by with her good husband who I just can hardly refer to as the Toad.... come on people, lets remove the perjoratives! Fun to see everyone, but too short of a visit as we had to hurry off to the CASU Armed Forces Day Concert.

Being from a family that has a lot more history in pacifism than militarism, it is not my impulse to honor the military. But I have come to have a lot of respect for the sacrifices that have been made in behalf of this country, and that I have benefited from. George Orwell once said that
People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.
George Orwell
Hmmm.... I certainly enjoy the quiet, safe little town that I live in, and sadly, I think that this is a pretty good point. We live in a telestial world, and generally might prevails in the contests of the world. I would love to think that 'world peace' is just around the corner, but I think that Miss Congeniality and her friends are going to be disappointed.

So I am thankful for the sacrifices that are made by honorable men and women. This day wasn't about this war, or any war. Not about politics or our current leaders, our past leaders, or leaders at all. It was about the guys and girls that put on the uniform every day to do their job. Some of them come back damaged and broken, some don't come back at all. They know each day what can happen to them. And still they do their duty.

Friday, May 11, 2007


Well, the deed is done, the garden is planted and it is almost bed time. There is just time for a quick thought.

Last night I opened a cupboard and found a little wooden chest that Grandpa made in high school shop. Inside there is the watch that he got when he retired from 28 years of work at Coors, an OLD lighter from back in the days when he smoked - and engraved boldly 'Al Hahn'. Also present was an old silver cigarette case, a set of dice, and several old pocket knives that are almost worn away from sharpening. Dottie and John didn't want any of this stuff, and really it isn't valuable, or even especially useful.

I guess that I am not one that always has to have stuff that is valuable or useful. In fact, I think I am sort of a magnet for useless and invaluable stuff most of the time. It was the pocket knives more than anything that I liked. The blades worn down to nubbins, and still fairly sharp brought back a vision of the characteristic grimace that Grandpa used to get when he was cutting a piece of rope, or screwing a screw into a board. It was the result of total concentration on the task at hand, and he didn't have any idea of how ferocious it made him look. Kind of scared me when I was little. Essence of Al Hahn distilled into a very intense grimacing scowl, teeth clamped tight, lips drawn a little back into almost a snarl. He WOULD prevail!

I kind of like that box of stuff. I only have to touch one of those old knives and the memories come flooding back. Useless? Worthless? I guess that I am not a practical person, but I think I will keep the old box, and memories it contains.

Sleep well all.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Days Just Fly By

Ahhhh Friday night. At last. Well, really Thursday, but I am taking a day off to work on Mom's car and try to get caught up on the yard work a little. How would it be to pay someone $85 / month and have the yard mowed, the house painted, the roof fixed, and the sprinklers working.... Probably pretty nice.

We used to have the Outage in March, when it was pretty cold and gray... (and yes Pixie, it was harder to celebrate your birthday then...) but someone with a spreadsheet decided that they could save several million dollars per year on replacement power, and then changed it to April without even consulting me. Not even an email. So, now when the Outage is over, we are beaten up and tired, and all the yard is crying for some attention. Well, tomorrow is the day. Mom bought tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, and broccoli plants. Once the plants are safely in the ground I will find Mr. Russell have him bring over the freon detector and we will try to find the leak in the AC system of Mom's car. And then maybe Dan's car as well. No rest for the wicked I guess.

We had Scouts this Tuesday. The first time for quite a while. The Outage disrupted the schedule a lot, and since they are very picky about having two deep leadership at all times, we just didn't have Scouts during April. We only have two boys, and they are not so much about getting the badges. But their parents are all about that the badges so Joseph took one boy and quizzed him on requirements while I took the other one and we varnished oars and glued a seat into one of the boats. We have to compete with water polo, skate parks, and baseball, so we have to have some fun. Our fun isn't too structured, just kind of making things and hanging out. Tuesday we will go to DMAD and try the boats again. I think that then they can take them home. It has been a fun project. Next they want to build bows, and maybe spears. John and I once built some spears..... we made the spear head out of heavy sheetmetal, and sharpened it like a razor. Very cool, but Grandma wasn't impressed. I don't know what happened to them, I am sure that I put them in the garage, but Grandma was pretty sure that I lost them.... One of those unresolved mysteries.

That is about it. It is nice to have a little warm weather on a weekend. Hope you all have a very nice time.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Garden Warfare

I was reading about companion plantings the other day and was reminded again yesterday about the grim warfare that plants practice in a quiet way when I was trimming up some baby plum trees that were leaning away from some of the obnoxious berry plants. It was interesting to realize that these plants were locked in a deadly competition for light, water, and space, and that they are using chemical weapons to gain the upper hand.

This quiet, serious and even desperate conflict was brought to mind as I was reading about all the shennanigans that central banks use in the background to gain the upper hand economically against competing countries. Kind of like the plums and the berry bushes, there is a real fight going on, but you have to look close to see it. It is really quite involved and convoluted, and I don't pretend to understand the whole of it. You might find this article interesting.

Asia Times reports on mostly economic issues and lets you see the world a little more like the Chinese, Japanese or Indians see things. Henry Liu is very thorough in this article, but it isn't easy reading. There are links to all five parts. My eyes are watering after reading them all. 'My eyes, My eyes!!!!" As Phoebe would say.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Jumping on the Bandwagon

Starting a blog gives me a case of writers block. Or so it seems, but there - the first sentence has been written, and it should get easier from here on out.

I am glad for Spring. Christmas is the last bit of sparkle that comes in the winter, and then it has become a routine of three gray months of straight work capped by an month long extravaganza of work during the outage..... and then one day it is over, and the tulips are up, the grass is starting to turn green and the whole world smells wonderfully alive. Is it a coincidence that this is about when tax-day arrives? No, I didn't think so.

The cool weather garden is in. The chard, spinich, and radishes are up, as are the volunteer onions, carrots and parsnips that overwintered. In the next week or so, it will be time to get the squash, peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers planted, and the whole watering system working well enough to abandon it for several weeks during the heat of the summer to go to Taiwan and pick up Daniel. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, I guess.

Well, it is about time for bed. Sleep well all.