ocean and mountains

Dan Antion:

I’ve made the oceans and mountain journey (and I’ve been to Ohio). If you want to know why those thoughts are connected, read the latest gem from Dan (the other Dan).

Originally posted on itkindofgotawayfromyou:

I am here retelling an old story . I do that . If you’ve heard it , then just turn away for a few minutes . Please don’t give me an exaggerated ” Oh , no ! ”  as someone I know sometimes does. Well , I will admit that’s more often after I tell a joke again . She’s heard them fifteen or twenty times , so I can’t blame her .

I had a brother-in-law who , all through his adult life , had the mental capacity of about an eight year old . He and I were pretty much on the same mental level , therefore , and we got along swell . His memory was what my memory is rapidly becoming . He could remember things that happened years ago , but not what he had for lunch that day , or what happened yesterday …

View original 1,136 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Punctuation of Einstein’s Wives

socs-badge-2015Challenging, wouldn’t you agree? To begin a story with a word ending in “ing.” See, this is where I disagree with the rule-makers of punctuation. I think that sentence would look better if it had ended with – a word ending in “ing”. Instead of having the period inside the quote. The period isn’t part of the suffix, it signifies the end of the thought and the end would be after the final quote. In any case, none of this was my idea. This post is part of the Stream of Consciousness Saturday series and Linda invited us to play by saying:

“Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: ‘ing.’  The first word of your post must end in the letters “ing.” Extra points if the final word of the post does too. Enjoy!”

Linda is a good girl, a talented writer and a knower of things grammar and punctuation. She probably didn’t give a second thought to the whole period-quote-position-dilemma like I did.

I struggle with many such dilemmas. My worst punctuation enemy, my nemeses as it were, and the punctuation mark that drives my editor crazy is the comma. I put commas where they don’t belong and I don’t put commas where they should be. My wife hands some of my draft posts back to me and it looks as if we’ve accepted some sort of variant of the conservation of mass and energy laws. Oh, after clicking on my own link (to test it) I noticed that there’s also a conservation of momentum law, too. I guess that would be important to the folks at NASA. That’s where the link goes, NASA, that wasn’t a random thought. Anyway, in our house we obey the conservation of commas law:

Within some problem domain, such as one of my blog posts, the amount of punctuation remains constant and punctuation is neither created nor destroyed, it’s just relocated.”


One comma out, one comma in.

I’m pretty sure that Isaac Newton’s wife corrected his grammar and punctuation too. Oh my, he never married. See, it’s a good thing that I test these links. I thought I could recover by pointing out that his father was also named Isaac and that I meant Isaac’s (the Isaac we remember) mother, but (see I wouldn’t normally put a comma there but my editor will) his parents were not well-educated.

Go ahead, take the cheap shot and say “one doesn’t have to be well-educated to know how to use a comma” because I don’t care. And yes, I added the “because I don’t care” part so I wouldn’t have to put the period inside the quote. I will often go to great lengths to avoid ending a sentence at the end of a quote. That’s how strongly I feel about this issue. In any case, Isaac (the father) Newton died before Isaac the son was born and Isaac the son was sent to live with his grandmother or possibly an uncle, depending on which source you like, so it’s unlikely his mother corrected anything he wrote.

Enfield Dam

The dam is deteriorating but it still diverts water into the upper locks of the Windsor Locks Canal

Lest you think that I am breaking the rules of SoCS, I can assure you that I am not. My stream of consciousness is just being diverted by the ridiculous life of Isaac Newton. I’d have about 200 fewer words if I had picked René Descartes wife to use as an example. Oh for the love! René never married either. And, get this, his mother died when he was an infant and his father sent him to be raised by his grandmother, who knows, maybe an uncle, until he was old enough to be packed off to boarding school. I should have gone with Einstein.

Einstein would have worked nicely. He married twice, probably to help offset the single lives of Newton and Descartes, you know, to stay in compliance with the law of conservation of physicists, mathematicians and their wives. In addition, Einstein’s first wife, Mileva Marić is said to have collaborated with him on some of his famous papers. The article goes on to say:

“…but historians of physics who have studied the issue find no evidence that she made any substantive contributions.”

Still, I’m guessing that she moved a few commas from point A to point B and probably cleaned up his grammar a bit. Actually, Mileva was also a physicist. I could have used her, but her life seems as chaotic as Newton’s and Descartes’, with movement and enrollment in boarding schools. In fact, she was the only woman in the school that Albert Einstein attended (in case you were wondering how they met). She and Albert didn’t get along all that well and didn’t stay married long. They had a daughter before they were married, and two sons after they were married, but the history surrounding those children is confusing and sad.

Where was I?

More importantly, since I now sense the opportunity to snag those coveted extra points, where was I going?

Posted in Humor, Prompt, Science, SoCS | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 57 Comments

Thursday Doors–Kelly-Fradet

Lumber Barn

Lumber barn

When I have projects like the Mission Style Closet Doors or the Cedar Wainscoting to make, the process involves going through the doors shown at the right. No big-box can match the quality or selection of the wood that these guys sell. The local Home Depot and the not-so-local Lowes stock some of the lumber I’ve used in these projects, but it’s usually warped, and it’s almost always more expensive than this lumber yard. Also, and perhaps most annoying, there’s a price sticker permanently glued onto every single board I buy at those stores. I hate that.

Warning: Lumber yards are not home centers. You don’t walk into Kelly-Fradet and start loading up your cart. You talk to a salesperson, you tell him or her (but usually him) what you want, he tells you what your options are, and you either agree to proceed or not. If you’re buying lumber, and you agree to proceed, you’re going into the barn.

The barn is a magical place.

The big-box presents you with bin after bin of questionable quality boards that have been picked over so many times that you have to move 10 out of the way to find one good one. In the barn, everything is lying flat. You can pick through the stack if you like, but most boards are very good quality. If the board has issues, the salesman will usually point it out – “you don’t want that one.” I’ve taken some boards that have loose knots or damage, when I’ve known that I could cut around it. They appreciate that. On the other hand, if I need (n) feet of clear wood, they will help me find it.

Inside the Barn

This is what a lumber department should look like.

The barn is interesting on its own. It’s old and it was purpose-built to stock lumber. There are multiple levels and you can “go upstairs and poke around” if you like. When I had my cabinet shop, this lumber yard was owned by a different company. In addition to lumber, they were a fully stocked hardware store. I was there often. I continued shopping there after I closed my shop, because I still knew the staff. If we had to go into the barn, they would let our daughter Faith climb the stairs and go across the little bridge. I’ve been yelled at in Home Depot for moving one of their portable stair things. Liability, don’t ya know.

Most people think that the big box stores are faster and cheaper. I have found them to be just the opposite. They are convenient, in that they probably have everything you need, but if you only need one thing, you will be in and out of your local hardware store in way less time. If you’re buying building material (lumber, windows, doors, siding, etc.) you are going to spend more money at a big box unless you compromise on quality.

When we were planning the renovation on our house in which we tore off the low-pitched roof and replaced it with a Gambrel roof, I shopped around for lumber. I needed a lot of lumber. When I gave my bill of material to the big boys, the guy at Lowes simply noted their price for each component. The guy at Home Depot told me that the prices were all available online. When I took the list into Kelly-Fradet, the salesman asked to see my plans.

I was very happy to show him those plans.


The lumber for our renovation.

We spent over half an hour talking about the plans and the material being used. In three significant places, he recommended a more substantial and expensive product. They had a better sub-floor material. He recommended plywood sheathing instead of wafer board and he recommended thicker than required by code roof rafters because using them would let me put more insulation in.

I like to make things stronger, but I was worried about my budget. The next day, he emailed me a quote. With all three recommended upgrades, Kelly-Fradet’s cost was about 25% lower than Home Depot’s. Delivery (that pile shown on the right) was a flat fee of $25.

This post is part of Norm Frampton’s fun and interesting Thursday Doors series. You can join us any Thursday.

Posted in Customer Service, Thursday Doors, Woodworking | Tagged , , , , , | 53 Comments

Waiting for Better Accuracy


Greta knows how long I’m going to be stuck here.

The title isn’t my work. I copied that from Greta, my Garmin GPS. You may remember Greta from such previous posts as “Yo Greta” and “Directions.” The other day, as I was leaving my office for a short but somewhat unfamiliar trip, I asked Greta for her help. Guidance. Directions and the like (she also knows about traffic conditions).

As usual, the first message was: “Acquiring Satellites.” By the time she finds those guys, I’m usually on the highway, but I’m heading in the right direction. This time, as I approached the highway on-ramp, I got the message displayed in the title.

I wanted to say “Yo Greta, who isn’t?” Greta responds to verbal commands, but probably wouldn’t have an answer for that one.

Speed Limit

Maddie and I are walking, so no danger of a ticket.

As I got on the highway, I was quickly reminded of one of the most common events where I find myself waiting for better accuracy. The speed limit. The highway signs say 65. Here in CT, we don’t have any of those wide-open road conditions where they bump that up to 70 or 75. Our highways are mostly 65, sometimes 55. There’s even a stretch of I-84 through Hartford where the limit drops to 50 mph. Nobody travels at those speeds, hence the waiting…

My editor would tell me that I should treat the speed limit as if it were, you know, a limit. It’s good advice in theory, but I would be “that guy” in the slow lane, holding up traffic. The de facto speed limit is about two or three mph below the point where they pull you over and give you a ticket. In CT, that seems to be about 72. In nearby Massachusetts, on the Mass Pike, that seems to be 80 or 85. I tend to stay at 70-72. I get passed a lot on the Mass Pike.

Another source of frequent head-shaking comes to me via my email inbox. I subscribe to newsletters, ePapers and other alleged sources of information, but I find them to be mostly sources of rumor and confusion. “Studies show lower than expected adoption of mobile payment solutions.” What does that mean? Is the adoption rate low? Were the expectations too high? Were the wrong people contacted in the study?

I think polls and surveys are basically worthless. Most Surveys are rigged, so they are accurate but they don’t tell the real story. Think of the surveys you get from the airlines or your car dealer for example. They are designed to generate five-out-of-five answers. I flew twice last month, for a total of eight flights. Some of those individual legs were awful. I flew from Hartford (BDL) to Seattle (SEA) via Minneapolis (MSP) on the way out and Detroit (DTW) on the way back. Delta sent me a survey: “How was your flight from DTW to BDL? – Tell us how we’re doing.”

I would have liked to have had the opportunity to say “that flight, the shortest of the four flights, was OK. The big problem was with the two flights going west…” but no such opportunity was given.

My car dealer will ask about the way I was handled by the billing clerk. Was my car was clean when I picked it up. Was the service was completed by the time promised, and was the price I paid was consistent with what I had been told.” All rated on a scale of one to five. No part of the survey lets me tell them that, after the previous service (and after completing the previous survey) the car developed an oil leak and that this repair was to fix a problem created by the original service.

By the way, that flight to Seattle, that was a whole different kind of problem with accuracy.

Delta Jet

This is the size plane that flies out of BDL

I am a conservative flyer. I booked my trip with a nice comfy layover in Minneapolis. 88 minutes. Almost an hour and a half. Plenty of time for the kind of plane changes you have to make when starting out from Mayberry Hartford and flying to a real airport. Three hours before my flight, I got a text message:

“Flight 797 from BDL to MSP has been delayed 53 minutes. New departure time is…”

53 Minutes? That leaves me with 35 minutes to sprint across Minneapolis, from the cornfield where flights from BDL land to the terminal where they keep the big planes. I was afraid that wouldn’t be enough time, so I called:

blah blah blah, flight delayed, worried about layover.”

35 minutes should be enough time. You’re landing at C-4 and your flight to Seattle is scheduled to leave from F-14.”

Is the new departure time accurate? I’ve been to Minneapolis, C-4 to F-14 is a hike. If it’s delayed any longer…

I wouldn’t worry. The departure time should be accurate. The problem is that the crew wasn’t going to have enough rest, so the flight had to be delayed 53 minutes.”

Fifty – three – minutes. What if they hit the snooze button?

Even more disconcerting was the fact that the crew was going to get the exact amount of rest the FAA requires. Not – one – minute – more. That was actually more accuracy than I needed.

Posted in Humor, Rant, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 48 Comments

Rip Slice Surface Shape Shave


The facing bevels produce a V-shaped groove that hides most imperfections.

I’m sneaking this post in on a Monday for those of you who enjoy reading about woodworking. This short study on how to go from boards to product is somewhat inspired by my blog-buddy Dan over on the other coast. Dan wrote about people who have lost thumbs and fingers. It’s a really good post. Feel free to take a few minutes and read that. Seriously, I can wait.

The reason I say that that post somewhat inspired this one, is because “production” woodworking, the kind where you are repeating the same operation many times, is a good way for an amateur woodworker to get seriously hurt. In industrial settings, dangerous operations are automated. That’s not usually possible in a small shop.

My goal was to turn several eight inch wide and roughly 7/8 of an inch thick Cedar boards into about nine feet of wainscoting for my brother’s bathroom. To give you an idea of the production nature, follow the math below:

Cut – The first step was easy, safe and fast. I had to cut 10 four foot long blanks out of the long boards. Since three of the boards were 12 feet long, I only needed to make seven cuts.

chop saw

The chop saw makes quick work of producing the 4-foot blanks.

RIP – This was the first production step. Each blank yielded three 2 ¼ ” (that’s the symbol for inches for you metric folks) wide strips, but each sequence of three cuts brought me closer to the blade. 30 cuts were required. Several years ago, this kind of operation ended with my left index finger following a board through the saw, slicing the end of my finger in half. Thanks to a talented seamstress (actually a Physician’s Assistant), I can still count to ten. The edges were surfaced at this point, reducing the strips to 2 1/16” wide.

Tab;e Saw

Guards in place and push-sticks in use.

SliceResaw the 30 strips into 60 strips that are ~ 7/16” thick. Since one side of the cedar was rough, the slice was a little off-center at the bandsaw, so I could put one piece through the planer on each side.


Push-sticks in use here too and no need to push anywhere near that blade.

Surface – This is the only tool I have with power feed, so it’s the only video. The thicker slice was surfaced on the rough side and then every strip went through to remove the bandsaw marks so they are smooth and roughly 11/32” thick. This is the same tool I used to remove the saw marks on the edges after ripping the strips to rough width. The edges required 60 passes, the flat sides required 180

Shape – The shaper is the most effective tool I own for cutting the “rabbet” notch on opposite sides of each strip. This is a very dangerous operation so I added “hold-down” guides to keep the strips engaged with the cutter and prevent my fingers from going along for the ride. In 120 passes, my fingers bumped into the guides three times.

Shave – The strips were simply too narrow and thin for me to risk running them through a power tool. A production shop would have a special cutter head that could mill the rabbet and bevel in one pass. I did it by hand because it’s safer and these are two of my favorite tools to use. I had the knife set so that only three passes were required, but that’s a total of 360 strokes.

The result is a series of strips whose beveled edges will form a V-groove as they cover the distance on the wall. I’ll also be using some of these to form the backs of a couple of little shelving units.

Posted in DIY, Tools, Woodworking | Tagged , , , | 33 Comments

Who Moved My Pie?

For the love of beer

The perfect place and beverage to share some casual conversation.

If we were having a beer, Cheryl would hand you the Specials Menu. You’d turn it over to look at the food side.

This sausage thing looks pretty good, but I don’t usually eat here. This guy takes his food to go.

Maybe she wanted you to give that menu to me.”

No, I wanted him to see the drink special. You, you always drink Yuengling, but sometimes he gets a little crazy.”

I do not get ‘a little crazy.’ Sheesh, you try a Jameson and Diet Coke one time and she hits you with the crazy stick. Although, I do like Margaritas, but the cookies make it seem a little feminine.”

Yeah, the cookies were my idea, I might be a little feminine. Is that a problem?

Now you’ve done it. No round on the house today. Nice going.”

Sorry. It’s funny, you’re usually the one that upsets the ladies.”

Not today. Today, you’re the one stuck in Margaritaville.”

She’ll be OK. So, what have you been up to? Do anything fun this week?

I did. On Monday, my wife and I and our daughter went to the Big-E(1).”

Ah, fair food. What’d you eat?

We started with a little bit of lunch at one of the beer gardens. The girls split a salad and Three-Cheese Risotto Balls and I had Sausage Risotto Balls.”

That’s it?

In that place, I wanted to save room for the usual suspects, you know, blueberry pie and ice cream and a lobster roll.

Wait, where did you get the pie?

In the New Hampshire Building.”

No way. I looked for that. I always get blueberry pie and ice cream in New Hampshire Building but I couldn’t find it.”

It was on the other side. I walked right by. I thought maybe it was in the Vermont Building. My daughter tried to point it out, but I was used to it being over by the entrance. She finally convinced me go back.”

Was it the same guy?

Yeah, he just moved to the other side of the building. He said a lot of people were confused.”

Pie Ice Cream

Blueberry Pie and Ice Cream – the best.

Confused? I didn’t get any pie! Why do they do stuff like that?

The booths by the entrance are more expensive…”

That was a rhetorical question Einstein.”

Oh, sorry, I answer those all the time.”

Don’t people find that annoying? ‘Cuz I do.”

My wife does, but I’m getting better.”

How so?

Well sometimes, I ask before answering. Just this week, I was leaving for work and my to-go cup was making this high-pitched squealing sound. My wife and our dog were both looking at the cup. I told her that I could explain what was happening but I wasn’t going to. She thanked me.”

The dog?

No, my wife. I’m pretty sure the dog likes my explanations.”

So, why was it making that sound?

The coffee is hot. It heats up the air in the cup and the air leaks out past the rubber stopper.”

Cheryl, if you can forgive me, I’d like to try one of those Margaritas. I’ll share the cookies with young Mr. Boyle and you can bring him another beer.”

Actually, Boyle didn’t specifically mention temperature. It was Clapeyron that combined a bunch of studies on gasses into the ideal gas law.”

See, that’s annoying, too. I mean, who really cares. Oh wait, you learned this from following DeflateGate.”

No, I learned it in high school chemistry class and I relearned it in chemistry and physics classes in college. I tried hard not to follow DeflateGate.”

Why do they have to keep naming things something-Gate, anyway? – And, just in case you don’t get it, that’s a rhetorical question.”

I was going to answer.”

Of course you were.”

Only because, in this case the ‘gate’ thing is appropriate.”

How do you figure?

Well, as you know, the practice of adding ‘gate’ stems from Watergate.”

I know that, that’s why I told you the question was rhetorical. You just can’t help yourself can you?

My point is that if the allegation behind DeflateGate is true, then it was a Watergate-like incident and the ‘gate’ suffix would be correct.”

You know, I don’t follow you – at – all.”

Richard Nixon was going to win that election anyway. He didn’t need to cheat. The Patriots were going to win that football game anyway. They didn’t need to cheat. So, if they did cheat, calling it DeflateGate would be appropriate.”

What makes you think of stuff like that?”


“Stop, please, please don’t answer that.”

These cookies are delicious. Thanks for sharing.”


Margaritas and cookies, courtesy of Cheryl Pennington. Please take a look at her blog.


(1) Big-E – Eastern States Exhibition – The Great New England Fair – The 5th largest agricultural fair in the United States.

(2) If you would know more about our bartender and read about those fabulous cookies, click here to visit her post and get the recipe.

Posted in Friends, Humor, If having a beer, New England Life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 39 Comments

Thursday Doors–Fuller Brush Building

Fuller Brush Building

Beautiful, albeit industrial doors.

Every now and then, traffic will force me off the highway north of Hartford in search of a “yes it’s slow but at least I’m moving” alternative route into the city. Just barely over the city line, a magnificent piece of Hartford’s noteworthy history comes into view, The Fuller Brush Building.

Alfred C Fuller started the Capital Brush Company in 1906, but he started in Boston, not Hartford. He ran the business out of his sister’s house. The company history says that he made brushes at night and sold them during the day.

Fuller perfected the door-to-door selling method, and by 1915, there were over a thousand salesmen beating the pavement in your, your parents or your grandparents’ neighborhoods. One of the innovative concepts Fuller came up with was to offer The Handy Brush as a gift for letting the Fuller Brush Man in the door. I remember seeing the Handy Brush all over the place growing up.

Handy Brush

Handy Brush

My grandmother had one of them tied to a container where she collected rainwater for her garden. She would use that to quickly clean vegetables before carrying them back to her kitchen.

Drawing from 1926 Geers Directory

Drawing from 1926 Geers Directory from Hartford Preservation Society

He built this factory in Hartford, and when it opened in 1923, it was the largest factory in the world! A current listing (the building was recently sold) puts the total space at 320,000 square feet divided between 180,000 sq ft in the four story Gothic Revival office building and the rest in one story “flex” buildings that served as the original manufacturing facilities (today, the brushes are being made in Great Bend, Kansas).

To prevent this post from growing too long, I’m going to simply list a few of the many fun facts I learned about the company and this building:

The company was not responsible for the term “Fuller Brush Man,” that phrase was coined by The Saturday Evening Post in 1922.

In 1929, Frank Beveridge, who had been hired to recruit college students to come to Fuller Brush, left to launch Stanley Home Products. While there, Beveridge founded the “Party Plan” method for home sales. Beveridge reportedly trained many of the people who sold/still sell products through home sales, including: Brownie Wise (Tupperware) and Mary Kay Ash (Mary Kay Cosmetics).

Forty million Fuller Brushes were used to clean weapons during World War II.

In 1948, comedian Red Skelton stared in “The Fuller Brush Man” and in 1950, Lucille Ball stared in “The Fuller Brush Girl.”

The Reverend Billy Graham was once the top-selling Fuller Brush salesman in the state of North Carolina.

By 1960 Fuller Brush sales people were servicing over 10 million homes.

In 1997, Fuller Brush acquired the Stanley Home Products brand.

One fact that is sadly appropriate in Hartford is that the stately four story tower at the center of the building collapsed in 1922 while the building was still under construction. A 200-ton water tank that was to be used for fire suppression failed and fell through the floors below.

I mention that it is fitting to Hartford because of the collapse of the Hartford Civic Center in 1978. Both events could have been much worse. The space under the water tank in the tower of the Fuller Brush building was to be used for training salesmen. The Civic Center roof collapsed a mere six hours after a basketball game with about 4,800 fans in attendance had ended. No one was injured in the Civic Center disaster. Ten people were killed when the Fuller Brush tower collapsed, but had the building(s) been in operation, the number of victims would surely have been much higher.

If you’ve never had a Fuller Brush Man come to your door, you can have the experience on your computer or mobile device. The Fuller Brush Man is available on YouTube and it’s a fun little video.

This post is part of Norm Frampton’s fantastic Thursday Doors series. You can join the fun. All you need is a door, and you actually have until Saturday to post it.

Posted in Connecticut, History, Thursday Doors | Tagged , , , , , , , | 76 Comments