The Big Hand is…

…near the one and the little hand is on the six. That’s how I learned how to tell time. My dad would ask me to go check the time and I would report back. He would then quiz me as to proper way to tell him the time. By the way, that was “it’s about five after six.” He didn’t need the extra 0-59 seconds’ worth of precision.

And neither do I.

I’ll pass, but I do like the time.

I don’t own a digital watch. I don’t use my smart phone as a watch. I, that is my editor, uses it as a timer, because I’m supposed to lay on that foam roll for three minutes and she doesn’t like me estimating. Still, she could do the job with a watch that has a second hand. I have a digital alarm clock, but that’s because it was the option with the least annoying lighted dial. The most annoying lighted dial would be the one they advertise in the airline magazines and sell at Bed Bath & Beyond that projects the time onto the ceiling of your bedroom. I can’t imagine sleeping under the image of a clock – taunting me all night.

This post isn’t about watches and clocks. It isn’t about the stunning degree to which today’s children lack simple skills like telling time and writing their name. It isn’t about sump pumps, but it was inspired by Almost Iowa’s post “My Sump Pump” which arrived in my digital mailbox the same day as a flier from my local woodworking supply store arrived in my analog mailbox – you know, the one on the post, next to the porch.

The woodworking store’s flier was advertising a “smart drill press” that costs about $1,000 more than my dumb drill press that is the same capacity. I took note of the warranty “2-Year Full Replacement for Motor and Controller and 5-Year Full Replacement for all other parts.” My dumb drill press is almost 25 years old and it works fine. I can just imagine spending $1,400 on a drill press and having to spend another $1,000 in three years to replace the controller – a.k.a. the part that doesn’t rotate, move up and down, hold a drill bit or otherwise put holes in things.

The digital drill press has “Digital Quill Depth Readout.” For those of you unfamiliar with the anatomy a drill press, the quill is the part of the drill press that lets the drill bit go up and down. If you want a more accurate and less helpful definition, see below:

All clear now?

The digital readout is designed to help you control the depth of the hole you are drilling. For example, if you’re drilling a hole in the seat of a stool, in which you will insert the legs, you want the holes to stop below the surface and you want all the holes to be the same depth.

Ever since forever, depth on a drill press has been controlled by a rotational limit thingie. You run the bit down to where you want it to stop, set the limit-thingie and you’re done. If the hole you’re drilling isn’t deep enough, you adjust the depth limit a bit; you scootch it up or down. You nudge it one way or the other a tad, a touch, a smidgen. I don’t know what the decimal equivalent of a smidgen is. I barely know the decimal equivalent of a 1/16″ and that’s way bigger than a smidgen. That’s measurable. That’s actually on the dial of the rotational limit thingie.

The digital drill press has a “Dial Knob for Precise Speed Adjustment” – My drill press has 12-speeds. Changing speeds is accomplished by moving two belts that connect with three pulleys in a first-this-then-that arrangement that makes you remember math and geometry and physics all at the same time. The 12 speeds are discrete, not variable. Still, I rarely have a need for 1,137 rpm. Usually, if 1,200 is too fast, I’m good with 1,000.

The digital drill press has “Intelligent Speed Selection” that “Offers the Correct Speed for the Application.” I have the memories of shop teachers Mr. Wells and Mr. Paulsen telling me to “slow that damn thing down, you’re going to burn the bit” and threatening me with “or I’ll give you ten and a half where it will do the most good.” 10 ½ was Mr. Paulsen’s shoe size. I’ve haven’t picked the wrong speed since 10th grade.

Digital controls on human operated machines is a fallout from the robotic workforce. Robots understand that a 0.06253125” deep hole is 0.05% deeper than a 1/16” deep hole. Maybe that’s a smidgen, I wouldn’t know. Since manufacturers have gotten so good at building digitally controlled machines, they are now selling them to humans.

As we move ahead to a time when more and more things are being done by robots, watch for the disappearance of things that are designed to be operated by humans. Hopefully, my drill press will still be working.

About the gallery. In addition to the requisite drill press photos, there are a couple of Maddie and one of the bunnies. There are also two videos that I made. They aren’t very good, but fortunately they aren’t very long – they illustrate the depth gauge thing on my drill press.


Posted in DIY, Rant, Technology, Woodworking | Tagged , , , , | 46 Comments

Hashtag #nuffSaid

The perfect place and beverage to share some casual conversation.

If we were having a beer, you’d have a technical question for me.

“So, Mr. Wizard, I have a question for you about your blog.”

“And that would be…?”

“Are you actually up and writing these things at 6:04 am?”

“No, not as a rule.”

“So, they’re scheduled in advance?”

“Yes, it’s a fairly common practice.”

“So, even though you sound all ‘in the moment’ you’re really sitting at a desk two days ago cranking out tomorrow’s observations?”

“Wow, I think you violated the Federation’s Temporal Prime Directive in that question, but yes, I do tend to write my blog posts in advance – if that’s what you meant.”

“Do you do this with other social media? I mean, are you tweeting some smart-ass remark about something while we sit here drinking?”

“I’m sorry to bring you two off your higher plane of existence, but you actually aren’t drinking, at least not yet.”

“Excellent point Cheryl. I’ll have a…”

“Yuengling. She doesn’t need to be a time-traveler to know that you’re ordering Yuengling. I however, enjoy being unpredictable…”

“So, Woodford Reserve for you?”

“Yes, Cheryl. I guess I’m not all that unpredictable.”

“I’ll get your drinks. You guys can go back to your own time.”

“Where were we?”

“You were asking me about scheduling social media posts. I don’t ever do that.”

“I want to ask why not, but I think you’re lying. I’ve seen tweets from you that are timestamped while we were at this very bar.”

“Yes, yes, you have. Tweets that I made while we are at this very bar.”

“No way. I would have noticed.”

“You never notice.”

“Notice what? What are you talking about?”

“SoundHound. You never notice that he uses SoundHound. Here’s your Bourbon .”

“I’m confused.”

“You are, but Cheryl’s right. The tweets you see that appear to be when were at the bar, are from when we were at – the – bar. If I hear a song that I like, I use SoundHound to identify it and then I tweet from the app.”

“No, I’d notice you typing.”



“GBS – it’s the keyboard shortcut for ‘Good bar song’ – I add that to SoundHound’s default tweet.”

“Our phones have keyboard shortcuts for meaningless asinine drivel?”

“OK, now you’re in violation of the Redundancy Prime Directive. And, no, our phones don’t have shortcuts, my phone does.”

“What makes your phone special?”

“I do – I’ve added a bunch of keyboard shortcuts for the stuff I say.”

“Because you’re not predictable enough in real life?”

“No. Because I make typos and I have to repeat some phrases a lot.”

“Like what?”

“Like my name. Like my email address. Like the URL of my blog. I added all of those when WordPress went off the rails and made me login to every blog I liked. I type ‘nf’ and my phone expands it to ‘No Facilities.’ If I type ‘nfc,’ it expands it to ‘’ – It’s a pretty handy feature.”

“How long have you been doing this?”

“Since I wanted to tweet about Eat‘n Park – I never remember that there’s no space in Eat’n. Now I just type ‘enp’ and my phone does the rest.”

“I have to admit, That’s pretty cool. I don’t understand much about what my phone can do.”

“Well, it can’t place an order for food, or for another round at this place, but you can. Hint, hint.”

“Ha, we will have another round, Cheryl. Do you know about this feature?”

“I do. ‘lmj’ is my shortcut for ‘Love my job’ which I tweet after I get a sweet tip.”

“I’ve never seen you tweet that.”

“Wait, let me add ‘ns’ for hashtag-nuffSaid.”


“You stepped right into that one.”

“It happened so fast. I knew as soon as I heard the words coming out of my mouth.”

“Good thing for Cheryl, I’m paying today.”

“I think she guessed that. On another subject, did WordPress ever fix that login problem?”

“Yes and no.”

“Please, my head already hurts. Can you make this a simple, non-technical answer?”

“They had me delete the cookies and saved-data from their app on my phone.”

“You should have guessed that, that’s all you nerds ever tell people – reboot, reset, unplug, start over – it’s a good thing none of you went into medicine.”


“I couldn’t think of a comeback for Cheryl, but you? Like shootin’ fish in a barrel.”


“At the risk of a much longer explanation than I want to hear, why don’t you schedule social media stuff?”

“Cuz life goes off the rails like it did last weekend. I don’t want to be caught looking like the jackass du jour.”

“Good point, these days, it’s easy to be misunderstood.”

Click here to see the latest from Cheryl. The photos are from a recent walk with Maddie and a few of Maddie after we returned.

Posted in Blogging, Current Events, If having a beer | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 60 Comments

Thursday Doors – Walking by Doors in Pittsburgh

Phipps Hall of Botany

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m milking that long vacation weekend for all it’s worth. Faith and I walk a lot when we travel and we took different streets to and from our destinations, so we had different door opportunities.

Faith is a good sport and, as many of you have experienced with your family members and friends, she has gone from being door-tolerant to becoming a door-enabler during the time I’ve been succumbing to my addiction to honing my appreciation of doors. It’s a common occurrence to hear her say: “oh, here’s a nice door” as we walk.


Thursday Doors is a year-round sporting event for door lovers. League Commissioner and captain of the home team, Norm Frampton runs the international Thursday Doors operation (ITD) from Montreal, Canada. The league is always open to expansion, so if you have some doors, head on over to the Commissioner’s office. There you can look at his doors and then give your ticket to the blue frog. Once inside, you can view tons of interesting and beautiful doors. I’ve also taken to clicking on an ad or two; I’m hoping it keeps the ticket prices at $0.00 CAN.

As for my contribution today, a few doors in the gallery are from Schendley Park, taken before and after our hike in Panther Hollow. The others were taken on our way to and from Heinz Field for the Steelers Family Fan Fest on Sunday. One boring, but very special door was taken inside PNC Park. Since we only go to one game every couple of years, I sprang for club-level seats.

Two of the doors within Schendley Park are on buildings that are part of Phipps Conservatory, a home for floral and artistic beauty within Pittsburgh for over 120 years. I haven’t been there since I was a child. It’s one of the few sites Faith and I need to pencil into a future visit.

I’ve described the doors, as best I can, in the captions. If you’re interested, you can click on any photo to start a slide show. If you’re in a hurry, that’s OK, too. You can get a glimpse of all of them in the collage below. I’m done with Pittsburgh for a while. I still have a bunch of baseball photos and photos from the Steelers Family Fan Fest, but I’ll dribble them in over time. Of course, I haven’t used all the doors, but you know, we need some for leftover stew in the future.

Posted in Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 62 Comments

One-Liner Wednesday – Just Like a Train

As you might have guessed from Monday’s post, Faith and I like to walk. My wife likes to walk too. Oddly enough, my wife and I would both like to walk farther than Maddie will agree to, but I digress.

When we were in Pittsburgh, we were surprised to learn that the Pittsburgh Steelers were holding their first ever Family Fan Fest at Heinz Field on Sunday. We decided to go, but with a baseball game at PNC Park (next to Heinz Field) and the Pittsburgh Regatta still underway, we weren’t sure where to park. We decided to park at Station Square and walk over.

A little more context


Station Square is on the west side of the Monongahela River. Heinz Field is on the North Shore of the Allegheny River. Our walk involved crossing the Monongahela via the Smithfield St. Bridge and the Allegheny via the Roberto Clemente Bridge (on the way over).

We chose the Clemente Bridge because there are more restaurants at that part of the North Shore. On the way back, we could cross the Allegheny via the Ft. Duquesne Bridge. It’s part of the Interstate highway system that goes through downtown Pittsburgh, but it has a very wide sidewalk on the west side.

End-to-end, we clocked in at just under 4 mi (6.4 km), but, as you will see in the gallery, I was able to get a bunch of night shots over the river on our way home. I’m saving the Family Fan Fest photos (I love alliteration) for another day.

Yes, I know, it’s One-Liner Wednesday, I’m over 250 words into this post and I haven’t even mentioned the one line. I had to set the stage, establish the context…I know, I’m still talking and I’m no closer to the one line. Actually, it’s three lines – please don’t groan – if I don’t make it three lines, I’ll have to set a second, perhaps a third stage and establish even more context.

As we were leaving Station Square, Greta (my GPS) pointed us north, as expected. I assumed we would be retracing the route by which we came, which was the way we went home the night before. However, (sorry, a little more context) the night before, we parked at the Gateway Clipper dock which is at the other end of Station Square. You wouldn’t think it would make much difference, but (here comes the one-liner…finally):

“In one quarter mile, turn left into the Wabash Tunnel.”

“What the…Greta!!! We’re not driving a freaking locomotive.”

The Wabash Tunnel is a former railway tunnel that opened in 1903 for passenger and freight service into Pittsburgh via the Wabash Bridge. The bridge was torn down in the late 1940s (the piers remain standing) and the tunnel sat unused for decades. It served as a bus garage for a while and was later converted to an HOV lane into Pittsburgh. The minimum number of passengers requirement has now been permanently waived, and the tunnel was indeed available for the ride back to our hotel.”

“Oh cool, we get to drive through the Wabash Tunnel!”

Imagine that final one-liner spoken in Dan’s little boy voice.

Some of the still images in the gallery are taken from Greta’s dashcam video. The entire video is available for viewing at the end. If you’re at all claustrophobic, you may want to skip the video, and you definitely want to avoid this tunnel. If you click on the upper left photo, the slide show will be in the order of our walk.

This post is part of Linda G. Hill’s fun weekly series One-Liner Wednesday. You can follow this link to see the one-liners from the other participants.


Posted in Family, One Line Wed, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 68 Comments

Panther Hollow – Urban Hike

Under Panther Hollow bridge

It’s summer and I’m enjoying a few weekends without a lot of writing. This week, I’m going to take advantage of photos and stories collected during Faith’s and my visit to Pittsburgh last weekend.

Last Sunday, Faith and I spent about an hour and a half hiking through Panther Hollow in Oakland, Pennsylvania. Oakland is home to The University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, the Carnegie Museums and Schendley Park. Although we were less than a mile from an Interstate highway, the hike had a strong wilderness feel. The trail winds alongside Panther Hollow Run (a small stream) which feeds the man-made Panther Hollow Lake.

Our hike started behind the Schendley Park welcome center, and took us 120′ (36.5m) below the Panther Hollow Bridge. The trail ranged from a wide footpath to a narrow muddy ledge. We crossed the run numerous times, on stone bridges built as a project of the Work Projects Administration (WPA) in 1938 and 1939. We also hiked through several underpasses running under those same bridges.

At the end of the hike, we climbed back up to the welcome center via a series of stairs and walked back to our car which was parked near a monument to George Westinghouse.

Yes, I’ve dropped more than a few clues to the many photos in today’s gallery (you can click on any photo to start a slideshow). For the sports fans in the audience, The University of Pittsburgh chose the Panther as a mascot due to the proximity to Panther Hollow. Panther Hollow was named for the Panther, because it was the most formidable creature indigenous to the Pittsburgh region. Also, an ironic and not entirely relevant fact: while there is a neighborhood named Panther Hollow, it isn’t located in Panther Hollow, it’s in Junction Hollow just to the east.

Posted in Family, Photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 65 Comments

Shredded Wheat

The perfect place and beverage to share some casual conversation.

If we were having a beer, you’d be in a foul mood.

“I have a bone to pick with you.”

“Great. Save it for a while, we’ll order some wings later.”

“No, this is personal.”

“Oh geeze, before you guys get into it, could I interest you in an adult beverage. I hear it’s ok to have one every day.”



“Well, there’s a surprise. Who’s got the tab?”

“It’s going to be the man who tried to embarrass me on the Internet.”


“Hold off on assigning that tab until I have a chance to defend myself. I’m not even sure what I did.”

“There’s no defense. Maybe you aren’t aware, but I read Ellen’s blog.

“I wasn’t aware. I’ve never seen you comment.”

“I don’t comment on blogs, I just read.”

“Lurking in the shadows, huh? Here’s your beer, and your wine.”

“Thanks Cheryl.”

“Did you want to order those wings?”

“Not yet Cheryl, we’re still waiting for him to realize that he’s paying.”

“Paying? I still don’t see what this has to do with me.”

“You read Ellen’s blog, and you do comment. I read your comment and I wasn’t impressed.”

“Are we talking about the same Ellen? Notes from the UK? Her latest post was about Weetabix.”

“Yeah, and you replied by raggin on Shredded Wheat.”

“So what?”

“You know that’s my go-to breakfast. Why are you hatin on my cereal?

“Vanity, thy name is jackass, and this beer’s on you.”

“Butchering Shakespeare, who never even wrote that vanity thing, isn’t going to help.”

“My point is that just because something I say resembles you, it doesn’t mean I’m talking about you.”

“What could you possibly have against Shredded Wheat?”

“It’s an old story.”

“How old? We talking years?”

“Yes, about 55.”

“55 years? Must be a seriously sad story.”

“Look, it’s a sad story, but it’s not like that stuff is actually good.”

“It’s good for you, something you wouldn’t understand, Mr. ‘I’ll have a beer and an order of wings’ – Good for you.”

“So is exercise, but you’re not getting much on that stool.”

“Ok, what’s this story?”

“My grandmother used to serve Shredded Wheat for breakfast.”

“Is this the same one who fed you chick peas? I thought you liked that woman.”

“I loved that woman. I’m talking about my mother’s mother. She wasn’t much of a cook.”

“What’s to cook? Shredded Wheat comes in a box, ready to eat. Soften it up, add some milk if you like. You can’t mess that up. I’m sure she let you put sugar on it.”

“She did, but it couldn’t help. The damage had already been done.”


“She served soft-boiled eggs for breakfast. After the eggs were done, she poured a little of the egg water on the Shredded Wheat and then made a cup of tea with the rest.”

“The rest…of the egg water?”

“Yes. To this day, I won’t eat Shredded Wheat or soft-boiled eggs. I would rather eat grits than Shredded Wheat.”

“Whoa, whoa, hold it right there. Don’t be dissin’ on grits. If you boys want the benefits of cereal, I suggest you take your grain in liquid form. You ready for another round?”

“Sorry Cheryl. I forgot you are from the south. We’ll have another round, but he’s paying.”

“I guess he’s right. His 55-year-old grudge beats my bad assumption.”

“Cheryl, since he’s paying, and since we’re eating healthy, a double-order of wings.”

“Parm pep for you. Blue Cheese for Daddy Warbucks?”

“Yes and yes, and that time the reference was aimed at me.”

“Yeah, but you’re a good sport, and I’m cute as a bug’s ear, so we’ll let it slide.”

Cheryl’s also a great photographer. Check out her latest Wordless Wednesday post.

It’s been pointed out that in my recent sharing of all things Pittsburgh, I left out the dog I left behind. Today’s gallery is mostly from walking and sitting with our crazy pup. Also, the song you might be thinking about is below the gallery.


Posted in Family, Humor, If having a beer | Tagged , , , , | 75 Comments

Thursday Doors – PA Trolley Doors

I really like this trolley entrance.

On our recent visit to Pittsburgh, we made a last-minute diversion to the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum near Washington, PA. Truth be told, we always referred to Washington as “Little Washington” so as not to confuse it with Washington, D.C. I guess we weren’t concerned about Washington state. Anyway, we had a few extra hours, so a ride, a tour and a lot of trollies.

So many trollies, that I have more door photos than will fit today. I’ll do my best to describe them in the gallery (click to start a slide show and see the captions). I’ll finish-up on a future Thursday when I have time to toss in a little information about the museum. I’m still playing catch-up with this week.

Thursday Doors is product of Canada where doors are imported from around the world by Norm Frampton, Limited. If you want to view the current inventory, head to Norm’s showroom. Look at the doors on the main floor, then click on the blue frog for access to the warehouse. If you have doors to share, the frog will hook you up.

Posted in Family, Thursday Doors, Travel | Tagged , , , | 84 Comments