Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Senile, Who, Me?

I recently bought a 1949 Ford 8N farm tractor which I plan to use for snow removal in the coming winters.  My thoughts ran to installing a loader, and, in turn, in some manner attaching a snow plow of some kind to the bucket on the loader.  I spotted an advertisement on Craigslist for an old loader located some 40 miles from my home.

As I have no equipment with which I could bring a heavy loader to my home, I enlisted the aid of my nephew Les.  He owns a larger than average Ford 350 pickup, and has a flatbed trailer attached with a fifth-wheel hitch.  He agreed to go with me to look at the loader, and if I bought it he’d cart it home for me.  A good plan.

He asked me to drive to his home so he wouldn’t have to turn his long rig around at my place.  I was a bit concerned to learn he had misgivings about turning a truck around on my 10 acres, but I drove to his home with my 2014 Jeep anyway.  After parking in his yard we proceeded on to our destination.

I bought the old loader, and the former owner said he would load it on Les’ trailer for us.  He started an old Ford 800 tractor, and attached a boom pole to the three-point arms.  This is an approximately 6 foot long pole used to lift heavier objects.  His tractor ran out of gas.  After adding some gas, the battery was dead.  He jumpered the battery using a separate battery apparently kept for this purpose, and got it running again.  With a moderate amount of confusion we finally got the thing loaded on the trailer.

Les drove us back to my home where I used my recently purchased 8N to tow it off onto the ground where it landed upside down.  Just then my nephew Don and his pretty wife Diana drove into the yard after driving all the way from Alabama.  After conversing in the yard for a few minutes Les decided to go home while I entered my home with the guests for a nice afternoon chat.

Later that evening my wife asked me where my Jeep was.  I told her it was in the front yard where it is always parked as far as I knew.  She said, “No, it’s not.”  I looked out to discover she seemed correct, I couldn’t see it either.  I searched my memory (what I have) to try to think if I had left it out back for some reason.  I couldn’t recall having it out there for any reason.  I was about to panic and call the State Police to report it stolen, but I had the keys in my pocket.  How had a thief managed that?

My wife casually asked, “Did you leave it at Les’?

Uh, yes, I did.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

1949 Ford 8N Farm Tractor

July 10, 2014 I bought a 65 year old farm tractor.  This is not intended to be a complete restoration project by any means.  I bought this thing to work with although I have little use for it other than snow removal.

In an “as is” condition I believe the engine and drive train are good.  The three-point-arms work correctly.  It has a refurbished radiator newly installed, and a new 6 volt battery.  It has had a recent engine tune up.  The rubber is decent.

The grill is home made.  The grill guard has been bent and straightened in the past.  There is a rusty place on the hood.  The headlights are in a separate box.

It started and was driven onto a trailer to bring it home.  This was a good start.  After it arrived at my home it started, ran, and was driven around my yard.  The next morning I found it only wants to run for a couple of minutes and then quit.  It seems to be running out of gas.  After a couple of minutes it will run again.

I found the fuel strainer on top of the sediment bulb partially plugged and cleaned it, but that didn’t change anything.

More later as it develops.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Just Mowing the Lawn Dear

My neighbor has a this huge Saint Bernard that usually does its duty in my side yard where the deposits sun dry into objects similar to frozen hot dogs, only larger.

I was mowing my lawn one afternoon when I heard this high-pitched ziiiiiiing as one went flying off the blade, through the chute and off into space. The mower temporarily stalled from the effort required to launch this missile. The TV cable running past the front of the house gave a twang as it apparently was struck by a UFO. Less than a second later I heard someone on the third hole of the golf course holler, "I never even heard anybody say 'fore' or I would have ducked," as he groggily rose from the ground.

Only another split second passed before I heard the tinkle of glass over toward the bowling alley as the lady in the pink miniskirt screamed, "Well would you look at that for heaven’s sake, I got a strike and I never even threw my ball!  How do I score that?"

About that time my little wife ran out the side door.  I couldn’t hear what she was saying due to the restarted  running mower, but I could see her lips going like she was mimicking a chain saw, so I decided I’d better shut the mower down again or I’d never hear the end of this.  She stuttered, “You, you, you’d better come come quickly into the house.  The TV set is going crazy.”

I asked, “What do you mean?”

She said, “I heard this twang out front, then it jumped about three feet from the wall, and then jerked back again almost to where it started.”

I decided to quit mowing for the day.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Fountain of Youth

While in the U S Navy I was taught some 59 years ago about radioactive decay.  In simple terms, which is all I know, radioactivity will decay in half-lives.  In some certain period of time half of the radioactivity will dissipate.  In that same length of additional time, a further half of the remainder will disappear.  This will continue forever.  It can be deduced that the radiation will never entirely disappear.

Keeping that in mind, I have noticed that actuarial tables work in a similar fashion.  I am approaching 76 years old.  Assuming I live until my 76th birthday then according to the Social Security actuarial table I would, as a male, expect a further 10.28 years of life.  This obviously means I should see my 86th birthday.  Further perusal of the very same table shows that if I reach my 86th birthday, I should expect another 5.4 years of life meaning I should pass my 91st birthday.  When I reach that milestone the very same actuarial table shows I can expect yet another 3.7 years, or until past my 94th birthday.  Continuing on this line I should reach 97 years of age, and receive another 2.49 years, or until past 99 years.  Believe it or not this just keeps keeping on.  At 119 years of age I yet have a further .61 years promised.

The final conclusion, like the radiation decay rate, is that I’m never going to die.  Social Security has discovered the elusive Fountain of Youth searched for by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513 in what is now Florida.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Senility Progression

I’ve always thought of a one-track-minded person as someone that thinks about one topic almost to the exclusivity of all others.  You ask that person a simple, “What have you been up to”, and you will likely get a response of, “I was fishing yesterday.”  If you ask that person, “What time is it?” you will likely get an answer of “I think it’s about time to go fishing,” etc.  In other words the person has a one track mind, and a fish is on the track instead of a train.

A relative of the one-track-mind must be senility.  When a senile person, no matter to what degree, can’t remember why he/she went to a different room it’s because something distracted their one-thought mind.  The person went from the living room to the kitchen to get a drink of water, but passing by the table noticed a dirty dish remaining from an earlier meal.  He/she stops, picks up the dish, rinses it off, and places it in the sink.  He/she then wonders why they entered the room in the first place?  It’s because the one-thought mind loses its connection to the original thought as soon as a second thought enters.

It’s not the same as basically having only one thought for an entire lifetime, but rather that only one thought can be entertained at any one time. As many humans age their brain electrical impulses apparently don’t mate with the brain receptors to register a thought.  Thus when a second thought takes the place of the first one, that first one disappears.  I sometimes liken it to having a brain full of thoughts already, and no place to put new ones.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Ants and Me

Several years ago I happened upon a lady that had several funny looking bottles of red-colored water hanging from trees.  While speaking with her about a proposed building project I noted UFOs coming and going from the water jugs on a regular basis.  When I asked what those things were she answered, “They’re hummingbirds.”

Not being familiar with the little darting avian critters I was paying more attention to them than to my future client.  I became fascinated with their rapid returns to the feeders, and their continuous wing beats, which were just a blur, that held them in place while they drank.

When I finally arrived home I mentioned to my wife what I had seen during the day.  My wife likes it when I occasionally speak to her.  After my excited narration of the hummingbird escapades she was insistent that we purchase a feeder to possibly entice some of the little oversized bumble bees to our abode.  So it was that she ultimately spent my hard-earned money to buy a small glass jug that hung upside down to dispense sugar water for birds.

Almost immediately we discovered that ants like sugar water at least as much, and probably more, than do hummingbirds.  In less time than it takes to tell about it, we had an overload of ants crawling all over the feeder.  Apparently ants are more powerful than hummingbirds because when the ants were present the birds weren’t.  As my wife seemed to want to watch birds more than ants she asked me to do something about this situation.

As I had the feeder hanging on a porch rail where the little wifey could see it through her kitchen window a solution seemed practical and easy.  I sprayed the rail near the feeder with ant killer.  That should fix the little buggers.  It hardly slowed them down.  I believe they learned to hold their breath while they continued on their merry way.  Well, what now?

No ant is going to outsmart me.  I shopped around until I found some old-fashioned fly stickers.  I cut off pieces and placed them around the rail some 2” wide on both sides of the feeder hanger.  Let me see them get to that feeder now.  When I checked the next morning I got the surprise of my life.  The ants had pried the fly sticker material away from the rail, propped it up with twigs, and were waltzing through between the sticker and the rail like a small tunnel.  All I was doing was providing them a shady spot to rest occasionally.

After doing some on-line research I found others had this same problem.  Some enterprising person was manufacturing a little water tub with a vertical string right through it.  By attaching this to the rail, and suspending the feeder from it, no ants could get across the water barrier.  When I checked the following morning an ant was there apparently giving swimming lessons.  I smacked him.

The next morning I approached sure that I would find a nice clean antless feeder.  No such luck.  When I got there little ants with hard hats were crawling all over it.  Some were carrying toothpicks.  Some had glue.  They were building a bridge across the moat.

Anyone want to buy a practically new hummingbird feeder?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Argentia, Newfoundland

The United States Navy, in January of 1958, decided I should go to a most wonderful place (not) named Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada.  I understood them to say the weather would be tropical, but I guess what they really said was topical.

I found there is a world (or at least a major part of it) of difference in these two terms.  With tropical weather you sometimes get terrible winds with massive amounts of moisture called hurricanes.  With topical weather, especially so in January, you sometimes get terrible winds with massive amounts of moisture also, but they call them blizzards.  The moisture is in a different form known as snow.

So it was that three P2V5F aircraft from Patrol Squadron Eight (Patron 8 or VP 8) revved up their engines in Quonset Point, Rhode Island and ultimately landed in Argentia.  As part of a ground maintenance crew I climbed aboard a troop transport which had a fuel stop in Halifax, Nova Scotia, but it also safely arrived in Argentia the same day.  What a rude awakening.  My first impression of this place was desolation, utter and complete.  After taking a second, and then a third observation, I yet came to the same conclusion.  There was nothing here, but wind, cold, snow, and bleakness, and this from a farm boy raised in the very north of New York State that knew what winter was all about, or at least thought he did.

After settling into our barracks, such as the drafty clapboard covered buildings were, we—did nothing.  There was nothing to do.  Our three aircraft were all serviced and ready to go with no need for maintenance of any kind.  We were told to stay in the barracks, and we would be called upon when our individual specialties were required.  Like where were we going to go anyway?

Although it is now 56 years later, I don’t recall there being any television to watch to pass the time.  A poker game was started that hardly ever let up for the 6 months I ultimately spent in this wonderful utopia.  Once in a while a crap game might get started just to break the monotony.

There was practically nothing on earth any more boring than standing a watch in the duty office from 0200-0600 in an empty hangar.  The only two items to watch were the teletype machine and the telephone.  Neither was likely to activate during those hours unless someone as bored as yourself from Gander or Thule or some other place no one ever heard of rattled up the teletype asking for the latest ballgame scores or some other dire needed statistic.

I recall a few isolated events that can better be handled as individual entries on this medium.  Watch for stories about “Liberty in St Johns,” and another about “The Crap Game.”