Monday, July 23, 2012

Playing with the big camera this weekend...

Up in Franklin New Hamster: (Click on any picture to view much larger...)

Wild flowers beside the WinnipesaukeeRiver

An interesting shadow

Center span of the Franklin railroad trestle

Under the trestle


Trestle footings in the river

Obsolete Technology

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Three in a row!

Quite a while ago now I read a neat little book called The Curious Incident of the Dog in the NightTime.  It tells the tale of Christopher, a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome, following in the footsteps of his hero Sherlock Holms investigating the rather gruesome killing of a neighbor’s poodle that circumstantial evidence initially lead authorities to believe he had killed.  With a “garden fork.”  The story is told in the first person from Christopher’s point of view.

It’s a really good read especially if you know an Aspie, and it’s not a bad mystery novel either.  Keep in mind, though, that if you meet one Aspie – you’ve met ONE Aspie.  We are all different.

Anyway, one of Christopher’s obsessions centers around his favorite color: red.  He has this personal rule that if while he’s on the bus on his way to school he sees three red cars in a row that means it’s going to be a good day.  Five in a row means it’s going to be a “super good day.”

Like I said: if you meet one Aspie – you’ve met ONE Aspie. 

I’ll let you read the book for yourself.  I think you will enjoy it.

Anywho…  After I read Christopher’s story I made a point to look for Volkswagens, since that’s what I drive most of the time.  I’ve played Punch Buggy since the sixties so I always look for them.  I started looking in particular for Volkswagens on the road in groups of threes.

The really weird thing was that I almost never see ‘three-fers.’  Even more rarely am I actually part of a three-fer.  Since I’ve been driving Punch Buggies myself, whether Galileo or Fritz, I have never been part of a three-fer of punch buggies on the open road. 


There was one time in the little industrial park the company I work for used to be in where I was in the rocking chair of a three punch buggy convoy.  But the other two pealed off into the parking lot of the pub that you got to before you left the road that the industrial park was on.  We were three in a row for maybe two hundred yards within the industrial park.  That was the only time I was in a three punch buggy convoy.

Until today…

WOW!  And what’s more – I had my camera with me to document the event!   

WOW cubed to the eleventh power!

Hope you had as good a day as me!

Sunday, July 15, 2012


I wasn’t feeling well yesterday.  I had a fairly notable headache and my shoulder was killing me.  That combined with the van not being loaded for the flea convinced me to sit out this weekend too.

It might have been less work to set up!

Thankfully the headache was mostly gone this morning though the other aches and pains are still hanging around to a lesser degree.  So having a day where I don’t have to go out anywhere I took the opportunity to do some work in the yard.  When I showed up at the breakfast table wearing my “Uncle Jessie’s” Mum greeted me with “Well. Good morning farmer [Herr].”

Little did we yet realize how close to the mark that might actually be!

So the first order of business was to get the string trimmer working.  The strait shaft head that was on the electric motor from last time was out of string.   I don’t really like the bent shaft trimmer head – but it has some string.  So I swapped the magazine from one to the other and I was back in business.  Even the weeds that were as tall as me were no match for my mechanized deweeder machine.  Can’t really call it a law mower given the shape of the weed-beds…

Speaking of the formally designated weed-beds, they will be going away.  What were flower beds have been completely overrun with grass from what’s supposed to be lawn and weeds.  I now consider them to be a trip hazard more than ornamental gardens.  So the edging will be getting yanked and the whole area mowed.

It turns out that there are two kinds of vines growing in the yard.  One had taken over the tree that makes the side yard useless and had I not got out there to get rid of them today would eventually have killed it.

The other:

Wine on the vine!

I’m no connoisseur so if you can help me out with a positive identification of just what kind of grapes those are I’d me much obliged.  Mum is leaning toward Concord.  But I have no clue.  Here’s the sample I brought in to show Mum:

Oh, and that tree,,,

I have no idea if they are crabby or if they have a pleasant attitude.

Farmer Herr, indeed!  And to think that the park rules contain a no food crops ordinance.  As if I care!

EDIT: Just removed another [expletive deleted] blank video.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I thunk I found an Easter Egg!

So there I was, looking around Hudson New Hamster with Google Maps.  I went to place the Street View guy to look at a plazmoid off of Rout 3A when he jumps over to the plazmoid itself and I find myself looking at this:

Never had that happen before...

Monday, July 9, 2012

Still here

12:30 AM Monday morning.  The Doomsday Virus deadline has passed.  If you are reading this I was able to post it and thus probably still have internet connectivity.  And so do you.  Yawn.  I'm going to bed.

UPDATE:  Written shortly after noon here at my Just Over Broke.  I checked the PC at home this AM and found it to be functioning normally and having no more problems than usual with internet connectivity.  Likewise things seem about the same as always here as well.  Perhaps I should have titled this post Welcome to Y2K all over again!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Banned in Boston

Calling their six page photo gallery a “Trend Alert” points out what does seem to be a growing trend at least in Bloombergia and Marxistchusetts: Banning things.  I was going to ask ‘What next?  Dihydrogen monoxide?’ but the list already includes bottled water.

So much for American being the Land of the Free…

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Redneck Bodywork

Here at the HerrBGone Homestead (V2.0) we make a point to use only the finest ACME* products for all our big projects.  (If they’re out of stock we’ll pop on down to Harbor Freight and substitute something from there…)  So when a big project comes along, like for instance, doing a redneck roof job on the flea van, we know just what to do.

After spending much of yesterday morning on removing the leaky vent and hammering the roof back into some kind of almost original shape (the hardware that held the vent on the roof had badly puckered the sheet metal around the holes) today was spent on actually patching the hole.

First up was figuring out how to form the 22ga. steel I bought for the job to match the roof with the tools I had on hand.  With a little practice on some scrap metal that proved to be no more difficult than I expected.  I’m actually very pleased with how closely my patch matches the shape of the roof.

Looking in through the hole in the roof you can see some of the utility shelving that came with the van.

For the two bends at the top of the stiffening rib I used my break in the conventional manor.  The two return bends were made using the break, um, more, um, creatively.  I clamped the work piece to the moveable part of the break with the breaks holder bar, only the bend was made manually over the near edge of the break.  There was simply no other way to clamp it up to make this kind of z-bend using the regular operation of the tool.  A box and pan break may have been able to do that but the one I have can’t.

Whatever works…

After taking that picture my next task was surface prep.  I laid the patch over the hole and traced around it with a ballpoint pen.  My air powered orbital sander made fairly short work of grinding off the paint and primer in the rectangle that was to be covered by the patch.  It also made short work of my arms!  I’m normally a cube dwelling computer pilot so I’m not used to all this Manuel labor!

The original plan was to seal the patch on with silicone and hold the plate on with pop rivets.  But I’ve been growing more concerned about the rivets leaking the more I’ve thought about it.  Then during one of my breaks I had a thunk: J-B Weld!  I’ve heard good things about this stuff.  Their website makes it sound like a miracle product.  We’ll see how it is in practice.  ACME wasn’t taking my calls and Harbor Freight was too far to drive and I don’t know if they have it anyway so I went to the auto parts store just down the road instead.  Looking at how small the tubes were I bought two sets.  I’m glad now that I did.  I ran a bead around the main hole and a second bead around the perimeter of the patch.  Mixed it right there on the roof and on the patch.  The bit that shows on the roof in the next photo gooshed out from under the patch when I pressed it into place.  I tried to sculpt it around the patch to blend it onto the roof a bit.  I’m not sure how well that went, actually.  They say you can grind J-B Weld once it hardens.  We’ll see.

So I wouldn’t have to stay there for the next couple of hours applying pressure to the wound I put some weights on the patch to hold it in good contact with the roof.  Yes, I did drink all that Moxie.  (Not all in one sitting…)  The ice tea jug was Mum’s.  That’s 9.7something liters of dihydrogen monoxide assisting me in my bodywork project.  I’m glad they haven’t banned the stuff yet!

I may reinstall the vent where it belongs on the flat that shows in this picture.  Or I may hold off in favor of a roof mounted air conditioner.  That depends on how long it takes me to find one for short money on Craigslist.

The other thing I finally got round to doing today was to reinstall the ZapMaster 5000 that can be seen hanging from the really big awning that’s not actually a carport since carports aren’t allowed in my neighborhood.  It’s out there zapping up a storm right at the moment.  Mwahaha!

* The first mention of ACME up there in the first paragraph was originally a link to a favorite cartoon.  Unfortunately the short-sighted Id10t that hosts the cartoons doesn't allow linking.  My link is was driving traffic to your site, dumbass.  It's called free advertising.  Too bad you are too stupid to recognize that.  Your loss.  No link for you.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

So easy even a game show host can do it...

H/T to my buddy Roger for sending this my way.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A reminder to us all...

This day is not about burned hotdogs and hamburgers.  And it is not just about having a day off from work.  Today is the anniversary of a far more impotent event in Human affairs than even many of our fellow countrymen remember.

Today is the anniversary of a day that changed the world.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

More Blogy Stuff

When I logged in to remove the unwanted blank video I just mentioned I was greeted by a note from the Blogger Staff across the top of my old school blogger interface.  They want me to update to the new and unproved blogger interface because the old interface will be going away “in the next few months.”

But the new interface (how shall I put it?) HOOVERS!  It draws a vacuum!  It inhales so sharply as to create a vortex down which the entire blogger community rides on its way to the great leach field of the intertubes!  On a good day the new interface most closely resembles an over promised but under delivered junior high project that was abandoned after receiving a disappointing grade from the shop teacher.

I am not at all impressed with the lack of robustness in the functionality of the new user interface.  It is so bad I actually went on a quest in search of the old interface!  While it lacks most of the bells and whistles of the new interface, at least IT WORKS!

As I have stated previously: If the functionality of the new user interface is not significantly improved, and I'll now add if the old interface is taken away in favor of the abortion that was created to replace it, I will jump ship from Blogger just as I already have from LiveJournal.  And I suspect that I am not alone in this.

And while we’re at it, apparently LJ found my post about not posting over there and linking to the New Dragonfly over here and removed it.  Ain’t that sweet?  I’ll have to go over there and put it back.  I have the text archived around here somewhere.  Or maybe I’ll just write something new about them taking away the old link.  Whatever.

Blogy Stuff

As I mentioned in an update to a post a couple down from this one, I just removed a blank video link from the top of the post.  I have no idea where it came from.  I did not put it there and it doesn't show up in Firefox on my home computer.  Using Winders Exploder here at the office is the only place I can see those videos when they do show up.  Have any of my loyal reader (not the singular…) encountered this before other than here at the Dragonfly?  Any idea what might be causing them to appear?  Any tricks for making sure they don’t?  All help will be greatly appreciated!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A car with a ‘tude!

Unless you’ve had Volkswagens in your life for any length of time you will probably not understand this post.  If you have, you will be able to relate!

Of the three VW’s in the family Galileo* is the one that gets driven the most.  Thunder** is waiting for me to have the time to work on him and get him back on the road.  I don’t think that’s too likely at this point and he may be sold to someone who does have the time.  Fritz*** is already back on the road with his new owner.

So a week ago Friday I made the executive decision to rearrange the motor pool and park the flea van with the leaky roof vent under the carport where the leak won’t cause any more damage to the contents of the van than had already happened.

Apparently Galileo was not happy about that idea.  That means he has to sit out in the uncovered part of the driveway where the van had been parked.  I explained to him as I pulled him into his temporary parking spot that the van isn’t water tight and it would only be until I got the van fixed.  Then we’d switch everybody back. 


When I went to roll up Galileo’s driver’s side window he stopped the window at half mast and rolled it back down on his own!  Then he wouldn’t roll it back up!!!  “Now who’s less water tight?” I could swear I heard in Galileo’s voice.


I started the motor back up and this time helped the window past the spot where it slowed down.  Closed and water tight enough for me.

As I walked to the house I reminded Galileo that the bank has already cleared me for a car loan that would be more than enough to put something reliable in the driveway.  So don’t screw with me kid, or you’ll need to find a new driveway to snooze in.

   * Galileo is a 1998 “New” Beetle
 ** Thunder is a 1985 Vanagon Wesfalia full camper (2.1L waterboxer)
*** Fritz is a 1971 Superbeetle (sold last spring & back on the road)
  x The flea van is a 1997 Chevy Astro AWD former phone company van

Plans for the Van

When I bought the flea van I told myself I would not accessorize it.  It was a van with a job to do and when its job was done it would be going away.

* cough *

So as I mentioned a couple of posts ago I just got back a little while ago after completely emptying the van.  That was so I could get out there and work on it.  I didn’t notice that it had a roof vent in the photos of it on Craigslist.  Once I did notice the vent I didn’t realize how badly it was installed.

Can you guess the problem from this photo?

Why yes!  The id10t that installed it mounted the vent on a stiffening rib!  I didn’t notice it until the first time it rained after I’d bought the van…

“The captain wired in: He had water coming in 
and the good ship and crew were in peril.”  
 - Gordon Lightfoot The wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald

My plan, now that I can get at it, is to remove the vent entirely and cover over the hole in the roof with sheet metal.  To that end, last week I bought a nice piece of steel from Lowes.  Yesterday on our way back from the barn an hour and a half away we stopped at Harbor Freight.  There I bought the 30” bending brake.  That set me back $29.95 with no tax because the store’s in New Hampshire.  They had a less expensive break that is 18” long but you only save $2- and get a significantly less useful tool while you are at it.

The right way to do this job would be to for the steel to match the roof exactly and weld it in.  I even have an arc welder that would be perfect for the job.  But I don’t know how to use it.  I don’t think the first bead of weld I ever attempt should be in the roof of my van…

So instead the plan is to form the steel as a patch to go over the hole in the roof and seal it in place with silicone and secure it with pop rivets.  Not ideal and not pretty.  But if it stops the leak I will be satisfied.

I may eventually reinstall the vent – back on the flat portion of the roof that is there for the purpose of installing this kind of vent.  It is clearly visible in the picture and obvious that that is what it is there for to anyone with half a brain.

Please pardon my irritation.  I'm just a little annoyed by the whole thing.

Another thing that may get installed in this van is my truck air horn.  I have a lovely (and loud!) chrome trumpet air horn that came off of a Peterbuilt.  I also have a compressor, accumulator tank and valve set that came from another air horn that I have in storage.  That one is a dual trumpet horn, but only one trumpet works.  And it’s kind-of ugly.

If the van had A/C (the ad in Craigslist said it did – the lack of an A/C compressor in the engine compartment says otherwise…) I might do more with it.  I like having something with this kind of cargo space.  But its gas mileage is horrible, it needs a CV axle and it has over a quarter of a million miles on the clock.

If I was going to accessorize it here’s what it would get:

  1. Steering wheel cover
It’s like the previous owner worked at a garage all day but never learned how to wash his hands!  (Probably the same twit that installed the vent.)
  1. The air horn
  2. The vent reinstalled properly this time
  3. Window vent/shades
  4. replacement seats that don’t feel like I’m going to roll off onto the floor as I’m going around a corner
  5. a trailer hitch so I could tow my boat with the van
  6. CB Radio and Scanner
  7. 12v fridge

With those changes – and the CV axle and a couple of lesser maintenance items taken care of – this could be a really nice van.  Will any of it actually happen?  I'll let you know...

UPDATE: I just removed a blank video link from the top of this post.  WTF is that all about?

Printing readable maps from Google Maps

I finally came up with a technique for printing readable maps from Google.

1. Find the area you want a map of and zoom so it almost fills your screen
2. Click [PrtScrn] on your keyboard
3. Open Microsoft Paint
4. With the curser in the drawing window press [crtl] [v] to paste
    (That’s an old WordPerfect keyboard shortcut.)
5. Leaving the fence around what you just pasted click and drag the image
    up and left so only the portion of the map you want is visible
6. Using the scroll bars go to the lower right corner of the drawing window
7. Click outside the drawing window to dismiss the fence
8. click and drag the nearly impossible to see corner window resize handle
    to crop the bottom and right sides of the map to where you want it
9. Save the file and close Paint
10. Open the file in Microsoft Photo Editor
11. In the [Image] pull down select [Balance]
12. Drag the Brightness slider to approximately the second mark from the left
13. Drag the Contrast slider to approximately the second or third mark from the right
14. Save the file

You can either print directly from MS Photo Editor or reopen the file in Paint. I happen to be more comfortable with the Print Menu in Paint since I’ve been using that for a lot of years. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work for printing directions unless you want to spend all morning on image manipulation.

So ends the first half

Of 2012. July first. Meh.

I just got back from storage. The van is almost as empty as the day I bought it. I decided to skip the flea this week to “fall back and regroup.” I haven’t decided yet, but I may quit altogether. Last week was a complete waste of time. The weather is only getting hotter and more humid. Wasn’t it Einstein who said “the definition of insanity was to continue doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results”? Not being insane I am looking for a different solution.

Yesterday Mum and I took a road trip in Galileo to check out a barn I can rent for less than half of what I am paying for storage. It was a nice ride, but it was an hour and a half away! And I accidentally left my GPS in a friend’s car when I went with her to a doctor’s appointment that she needed someone else to driver her home from. I had to make due with directions printed out from Google maps. Meh squared.

I want my GPS!