In my dream I was running water for a shower, waiting for it to get hot, when I noticed the water wasn’t draining from the tub. Kneeling down to get a closer look, I could see sand piled up in the drain, so I stuck my little finger in and scooped some out. I kept tweaking it out a little bit at a time with my little finger until I realized that was going to take forever, so I went to the kitchen to get a clear plastic drinking cup with a lid and a straw. I put a hose over the end of the straw, punched a hole in the top of the lid, and by sucking air through the hole I made a little vacuum cleaner that I could use to suck the sand out of the drain. It’s weird how even my dreams can turn into nerdy gadget projects.


Seriously, how does Radio Shack stay in business? I go there pretty regularly to buy solder and micro-switches and geeky stuff like that, but nobody else does, from what I can tell. For all the times I’ve been there, just once have I seen anyone else in the store, shopping for a phone. I wanted to walk up to him and ask, “Really? You needed a phone and the first store that popped into your head was Radio Shack? How?”

Every other time I’ve been there, I was the only customer in the store. Which has its up side. The clerks always say “Hi” when I walk in the door, and they very nearly demand to show me to the very spot where I can find what I’m looking for. On the rare occasions when I don’t already know where it is and take them up on their offer, they’ll take me up the correct aisle, pull open a drawer and take out several examples of, say, terminal lugs, describing each type and finishing up by letting me know that, if these are exactly the right kind of terminal lugs I’m looking for, they’ll be happy to call the other Radio Shack stores to see if they can find what I want.

I took one of the clerks up on that offer, too, when I was looking for a big spool of wire. Unfortunately, I have to report that her call did not start with, “You’ll never believe who’s here! A customer!


Can you find Bonkers the Cat in this photo of my basement lair?

image of man cave

I bought a new camera a few weeks ago because I lost my old camera. Just lost it. I was taking photos while I was brewing beer or hammering on some wood or something, so between photos I put it somewhere very safe, and it is in such a completely safe place that I’m sure it will still be in good working order when I remember where that safe place is.

I went without a camera for a month or two because it took that long to get over how stupid I felt about losing my camera, but then one day while I was shopping for toilet paper or shoes or something completely unrelated to cameras, I wandered past the electronics section of our local Shopko store and I bought a camera. And it sucked. But the suckiness of the camera was Fuji’s fault, not Shopko’s. I took the crappy Fuji camera back and bought a Sony Cybershot, which was coincidentally the name of the camera that’s in a very safe place. And I like it a lot.

One of the things my Sony Cybershot can to is take panoramic photos. I can stand in the middle of my basement lair, for instance, and slowly turn in a circle after I click the shutter. The computer brain of the camera can remember everything it sees and somehow pieces it together into a nearly seamless photo of everything I pointed it at. You can see a few of the places where it had to sort of fudge things together. There’s a very obvious break in the florescent light on the left, for instance, but I’m really amazed at how good the rest of it looks.


A pair of invaders from outer space accidentally blow each other’s heads off.

Just kidding. It’s the swing classic, “Sing Sing Sing,” performed on Tesla coils. I get a great big nerd boner from this, while My Darling B thinks it’s perhaps the most annoying thing she’s ever heard.


yard work, wood chipperIt’s an electric wood chipper and it can turn all our yard waste into garden mulch. Well, maybe most of it. Okay, some. Because if I wanted to shove all our yard waste into it I would have to use every spare minute from now until the snow flies again, and I don’t know how willing I am to devote even half that kind of time to garbage disposal.

Still, though, it’s a really cool toy, and we’ve always got plenty of twigs, branches and leaves to mulch at pretty much any time of the year. It’s always been a bit of a problem because although the city sends a truck around periodically to pick the stuff up, it never seems to come around when I really need it, and always seems to be there when I’m feeling especially lazy and wouldn’t pick up a pruning saw if you pointed an assault rifle at me. Literally.

We revved it up right after dinner this evening because we just brought it home from the store and, y’know, we couldn’t just let it sit there in the box, could we? Bolting the legs on was stupid easy. My Darling B wanted me to read the directions — as if! So she read the book while I bolted the legs on, and we were happily feeding junk wood into it about ten minutes later.

And we just happen to have plenty of twigs and branches on hand after I cut down the cedar out front and pruned the shit out of the lilac in the back yard. I jammed it almost right away by shoving the thickest branch I could find into the feeder. You don’t know until you try, right? After taking it apart and clearing the blades, I found I could grind even the thickest branch down to chips if I fed it in very slowly, and we soon filled a big yard bucket with lots of mulch. Fun!