Monday, January 31, 2011

Somebody else, not me

Collected some of the "not me" images and posted them to my work site. It seems that I spend a disproportionate amount of my time paddling backward through others speedy fixes.

I do it at home a lot too. It's how I spend my days. Making grey laundry white etcetera.The work to be done is everywhere. The gift of marriage is that I've leaned to put relationships first and not stuff. Consequently the living space often more closely resembles a disrespect for stuff. What it is, in fact, is a living demonstration of my willingness to change and embrace chaos more willingly. In this way, I have been introduced to my own humility.

Over the last couple of weeks I've learned how to make a mess on top of the wood stove with wild sage from Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan. What a fantastic and exotic fragrance that stuff lends to the house. It's very different from what we have here locally. I must collect a little cedar to add to the mix. Ah, life in the fast lane. More chaos. Bring it.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fixing a trackball computer mouse

I'm a fix it guy. I'll take a swing at almost anything if it seems worth while keeping. Thanks go to Chris for passing along his old hardware. Muchas gracias brother. Chris is also responsible for some excellent programming that makes me look good at work.

My mouse is one I now value and I'll keep the $75 for a new one and have some fun doing the refurbishment too. The trackball is easy on the hand and, OK, I'm cheap, or "Green" or whatever you want to call it. Re-use rules!

Doing more with less is a theme I've embraced. I don't need a new sweater just because this one is showing some wear. I may put one on that has cleaner lines, to go to town, but around here often even that isn't mandatory. Like I'm fond of saying, I've always wanted to be a peasant. I don't appreciate the airs of wealth, power and prestige. I do highly value wisdom that can, in some cases, come from the uneducated and impoverished. Poverty is the norm here. The land wasn't any good for farming and the population base is thin. The type of land is the type the powers that be would grant for a native reserve just like the one down the road. That, and gardens can be built. The hunting is good!

The gap between my urban and country selves has widened and there is no turning back now. I just hope my urban friends can relate closely enough to recognise some common ground and don't disappear from my life altogether. It's rough and dirty here sometimes, but it has many benefits too.

So I fix things. I repair. I restore. I resurrect. I salvage. My Dad was the very best at making a silk purse out of a sows ear. Sometimes it seemed as if Dad was only truly inspired when there was some meaningless piece of costume jewelery or dollar store wind up toy that a kid had ruined and was wanting repair. He loves to make kids happy. I know that's not his exclusive skill because he was gifted in dancing with precious metals, gem stones, watches and clocks too. Lucky me that I got to be a chunk off the old block. Although that sows ear isn't nearly so attractive to me.

Some people really don't like things that are used, worn or showing some patina, but I'm very fond of healthy wear, especially on something well engineered. When I need some pleasure I often extend the life of something I love. Today it was a computer mouse.

This was a gift from a junk drawer to help bridge the gap between my failing standard laser mouse and a new one being delivered. A little TLC and a twenty minutes of shop time and it's like new. Tools are everything to fussy jobs like this, but if you have them go for it.

The beast


The fix was to drill a hole under the ball, pop it out from underneath and then clean and rotate it to avoid the wear spot when it's popped back into the socket.


The drill was one millimeter in diameter


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Winter lard logs

One of the many pleasures through the winter season, for me, is in watching the birds swing from the lard log as they eat and I wash dishes. I like variety and winter is just one more cycle to find hidden treasures within. I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with the negativity regarding winter. It seems to be seamless. I was ruminating on this as I played guitar by the wood stove, dressed in a touque and neck tube trying to build a head of steam to brave the wind and get my outdoor chores done after breakfast. I don't desire for comfort to be consistent.

I like to make and hang lard logs out for the wild birds in the winter. My main motivation to do this was to try and keep the downy and hairy woodpeckers out of my oil seed hopper. Now we see others taking advantage of the hanging mix.

I feed a big hopper of the black sunflower seeds right outside the kitchen table window and woodpeckers make a wasteful mess of it. Because they can't crack the seeds, they flick seeds out of the feeder, holus bolus, while they search for kernels that have escaped their shells. I don't know what the ratio is, but ten thousand to one seems about right. So there tends to be refills from an 18 litre pail of seeds in very tight cycles as they unceremoniously dump seeds on the ground while scrounging for kernels.

I use lard and not shortening. Hopefully, for obvious reasons, but maybe not. Here it comes: Shortening is trans fat. The body does not recognise it as food. If I won't eat it, I sure won't feed it to wildlife.

I think I've finally settled on a good balance of seed to lard in these things so I'll share. When I don't have enough seed incorporated, the log doesn't last a week and that's just not long enough. When I add too many adjuncts, the log gets too hard when it's frozen and the fight to get the calories becomes easier at the oil seed hopper, thus defeating the purpose.

The recipe can contain almost anything as an adjunct. I often add a couple of dollops of peanut butter if I'm feeling generous. I've used tame and wild bird seed too, but plain old black sunflower seeds and the ground grain I feed the layers makes up the majority of the mix. I use quite a bit of the chopped grains I feed to the layer flock, but most people won't have access to that so just make up the difference with whatever you think birds might find attractive. Use your imagination. I'm sure that dry fruit would add a nice touch for some of the birds. I'm interested in attracting a wider variety of birds so I'm beginning to mix it up a bit. I'd really like to have the evening grosbeaks back regularly. They add a lot of colour to the yard.

I save mesh citrus fruit and onion bags to hold the logs and tie a simple granny knot to hold it closed. Then I run a heavy, but malleable wire through and under the knot and then bend the top of the wire into a loop that provides a hanger. I use a step ladder to hang the log well out of the way of any cat access. I try and choose a relatively thin branch far from the trunk and as far up the tree as I can manage.

The additives go into a big bread bowl when I add the softened lard. Mixing this by hand is the best winter hand lotion going. Once it's well mixed, I roll it into a log and load it into the bag. Washing dishes with the birds for company is one more way I enjoy winter.

- Set 454 grams of lard out on the kitchen counter over night.

- Get you mesh bag out and roll it down so it will be easy to set the bottom of your soft log in the bottom of the bag.

- Soften the lard in the microwave for ten seconds or so.

- Toss 680 grams of seed into a big bowl

- Add the softened lard and mix thoroughly.

- In the bowl, form the mix into a log shape.

- Pick up the log and rest it lengthwise in your dominant hand and up your arm, while manipulating the mesh bag over your hand, arm and log.

- Remove your hand, tie the bag end and insert your wire hanger under the middle of the knot and you're ready to brave the ladder.

- Be careful out there. Ladders in the snow can be fun.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Adult Principle #1

JPBarlow's twitter contribution. He's been milking these out over the last few days. They've been enough to prompt me to post. I've been a little off my game. Sometimes I despair.

Adult Principle #1: Be patient. No matter what.

Adult Principle #2: Don’t badmouth: Assign responsibility, not blame. Say nothing of another you wouldn't say to him.

Adult Principle #3: Never assume the motives of others are, to them, less noble than yours are to you.

Adult Principle #4 Expand your sense of the possible.

Adult Principle #5 Don’t trouble yourself with matters you truly cannot change.

Adult Principle #6 Don't ask more of others than you can deliver yourself.

Adult Principle #7 Tolerate ambiguity.

Adult Principle #8 Laugh at yourself frequently.

Adult Principle #9 Concern yourself with what is right rather than who is right.

Adult Principle #10 Try not to forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong.

Adult Principle #11 Give up blood sports.

Adult Principle #12. Remember that your life belongs to others as well. Don't risk it frivolously.

Adult Principle #13 Never lie to anyone for any reason. (Lies of omission are sometimes exempt.)

Adult Principle #14 Learn the needs of those around you and respect them.

Adult Principle #15 Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission and pursue that.

Adult Principle #16 Reduce your use of the first personal pronoun.

Adult Principle #17 Praise at least as often as you disparage.

Adult Principle #18 Admit your errors freely and quickly.

Adult Principle #19 Become less suspicious of joy.

Adult Principle #20 Understand humility.

Adult Principle #21 Remember that love forgives everything.

Adult Principle #22 Foster dignity.

Adult Principle #23 Live memorably.

Adult Principle #24 Love yourself.

Adult Principle #25 Endure.

These are right up there in my mind with the whole detach with love stuff.