Sunday, September 16th, 2012

image of trunk full of goodwill donationsThe basement’s a mess. What’s new about that, right? Just this: I started doing something about it today. I started gathering up all the stuff that’s been laying around for years that nobody’s laid a finger on in all that time and dragged the mess out to the garbage can. It’s one of those flip-top trash cans the city gave us so the robot trucks could pick up our garbage. Huge. 55 gallons at least. Filled it to within a foot of the top.

How did we manage to hang on to a big plastic bucket full of 2.5-inch floppy disks until this moment? Didn’t those things stop being useful years ago? None of the computers we have now even have slots for them. If there was something on them that we might want, we don’t have the hardware to check for it now. Out they went. So did the two keyboards and the trackball mouse. The joystick. The two router hubs. I’m hanging on to the very impressive-looking video card until Tim can take a look at it, but I have the sneaking suspicion he’ll tell me it’s so old (at least two years, maybe three) that it couldn’t possibly be of any use to anybody now. It’ll probably be in the bin by tomorrow morning.

It didn’t all go in the trash, though. If any of it looked like something somebody might be able to use, I stuffed it into the trunk of the car and, when it was full, drove it all down to Goodwill and gave them the whole kit and kaboodle. There must be somebody out there who wants an electric guitar, or will buy one for his kid on the off-chance it might strike a creative spark. That’s how we ended up with it, after all. And the desk lamp will surely find a good home.

I had thought briefly about advertising the lot on e-bay or Craigslist, but I killed off that thought almost as soon as it entered my head. Killed it with extreme prejudice. Strangled it, really. Snapped its scrawny little neck while I was doing it, too. Posting all that crap, then boxing it up and taking it all down to the post office in the event that somebody actually bought it was something I really didn’t want to go through, even if it did net me a couple of bucks. I wanted to get it out of our basement now!

And so I did. Not much of it, but It’s a start.

goodwill | 1:03 pm CDT
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Monday, July 5th, 2010

image of table fan

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet the Polar Cub, a table fan with sharp-edged metal blades and no safety cage to speak of. Turn it on and the blades whirl so fast you could lose a finger to this thing faster than you can say “Emergency Room.” Now that I’ve restored it to working order I imagine there’s a guy in whatever federal safety office watches out for these things kneading his forehead as he struggles to regain his breath and muttering, “I feel something terrible has happened.”

I picked this up at a thrift shop some months ago and yesterday finally got around to replacing the electrical cord, which was so old it had gotten brittle enough to crack and fall apart in more than a few places, making it even more dangerous than the original designed called for. Replacing the cord was a quick fix but I’m not a quick worker, so here it is, July, and I’m just getting around to it.

It works great except for the oscillating mechanism. The gears were so badly gunked up the motor couldn’t get them going again. I could turn them slowly by hand, though, and it seemed to help free them up, so I got the bright idea to chuck the shaft in my power drill and give it a good, long high-speed turn. Moments later the gears were stripped beyond all repair. Brilliant.

The motor’s got just one speed, corresponding to F-5 on the Fujita tornado scale where winds from a force five tornado cause the maximum damage conceivable. Still, on a really hot July day in Wisconsin that’s about what you need to move enough air past you in order to keep cool. Come August, we could put a truckload of these things to good use.

Today’s another day off from work for both My Darling B and I, but the great big green and yellow blob that’s hovering over our part of Wisconsin on the NOAA Doppler radar screen means we probably won’t be doing any yard work today.

B’s taking full advantage of this development and sleeping in late this morning, after spending Friday, Saturday and half of Sunday in her garden, pulling weeds, setting down soaker hoses and generally tidying up. And I’m, y’know, doinking around on the internet. Because it’s there.

Polar Cub | 9:20 am CDT
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Saturday, June 12th, 2010

We made out like bandits at the thrift store this morning! You’re pretty excited for us, I know.

Both of us managed to get out of bed very early and get to the farmer’s market before the foot traffic was shoulder-to-shoulder all the way around the square, so we were able to finish up our shopping a bit sooner than usual and head on over to our next stop, the thrift shop on Willy Street. It was all happening so smoothly that I got there before the doors opened (B was at the co-op picking up a few items).

I had the book store all to myself as I prowled the aisles, and the pickings were good: I scored a copy of Edward Teller: The Real Dr. Strangelove, and can’t wait to crack it open so I can read more stories about Teller that will utterly fail to alter my opinion that he was one of the greatest menaces to world peace ever to walk on two legs.

Okay, I it turns out I can wait: I also took home a copy of The Great Influenza, the story of the Spanish flu epidemic. I made the mistake of peeking into the first few pages and ended up reading the first chapter right away. Great, now I’m working on two books at the same time.

I took home two more books, one about the grat depression and one about Eleanor Roosevelt. I’ll have to share the latter with my Mom, who adores all things Eleanor. The woman was a force of nature. (I meant Eleanor, but now that I think about it my Mom was, too.)

My Darling B always picks through the china while I peruse the books. She likes to bring home any plate or platter that has an interesting pattern, so our china hutch is filling up with mis-matched flatware, just the way we both like it. She found three plates with a retro pattern, to go with (or not go with) the retro plates she already has. She also found this super-cool lunch plate with a scene featuring an adobe arch and picnic basket laid out on a sarape. Another plate had the same kind of southwestern theme but was not part of the same set. She didn’t want to bring that one home because of a few chips around the edges, but I could see myself eating lunch off it so I brought it home rather than leave it behind.

lightning bug day | 6:01 am CDT
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