Wednesday, May 28, 2008


I was naked today.

Yesterday, I went to help someone put fiberglass on a canoe he was building. When I came home last night, it was very late and I just changed my clothes and went to bed.

This morning, I got up and got myself ready for work, fixed some lunches and got out the door.

I didn't realize I was naked until I got to work.

I'd left my pocket knife at home. I have a Swiss Army "Tinker" model that I always carry. I use it at least once a day, usually more often. I have several things that I always have on me. When I don't have them, I feel, well, naked. These items are as follows:
  • a wrist watch
  • a pocket knife
  • keys
  • change
  • a wallet
  • glasses
  • cell phone (Well, sort of naked without this...)
  • comb (Don't ask me why, I almost never use it. Force of habit, I suppose.)
What are you naked without?

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tech Tip Tuesday - Sticky Business

In the building of a strip boat, people usually freak out when I tell them that the glue they use to bond the strips together doesn't need to be waterproof. There is a good reason for this. The strips are covered with fiberglass and epoxy which is effectively both the structure and waterproof coating for the canoe. Elmers, Titebond and others make good carpenter's glue (Sometimes called "yellow glue") It works just great and the bond is stronger than the wood around it.
There are places where epoxy, polyurethane, resourcinol or other adhesives would work better - usually, I'm talking about the stems, decks, and trim - places that might or might not get a good coat of epoxy.
Still, for the most part, plain old wood glue works great and cleans up nicely!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Got Milk?

14 tons of spilled Oreo cookies snarl Ill. traffic

Mon May 19, 9:00 AM ET

MORRIS, Ill. - Police say a trailer loaded with 14 tons of double-stuffed Oreos has overturned, spilling the cookies still in their plastic sleeves into the median and roadway.

Illinois State Police Sgt. Brian Mahoney says the truck's driver was traveling from Chicago to Morris on Interstate 80 around 4 a.m. Monday when he fell asleep at the wheel and slammed into the median.

"The boxes came out of the trailer and boxes were ripped open," he said.

The crash about 50 miles southwest of Chicago remains under investigation.

Mahoney says no charges have been filed but both lanes of traffic remain closed while authorities remove the cookies.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tech Tip Tuesday

As you may have guessed from my previous post regarding staples, I have been surprised to discover that I have become a "connoisseur" of certain items. One of them is actually tape.

We use different kinds of tape for different purposes when building a canoe. Some of the reasons might surprise you.

Masking tape

Masking tape can be used to mask lines when you are painting. It can be used to stick things together. It can also be used to wrap bundles of strips. Ironically, in the boat-building process, one of the most important uses for tape is to prevent things from sticking together. It is applied adhesive side down on the edges of your forms so that your strips will not be glued to the forms. This is critical when you are building the canoe. If you cannot get the hull off the forms because it's glued to the forms, you will not be a happy camper. You usually discover this fact only once you've finished about 70% of the building process.

This is not to say that all masking tape is the same. First, it should be "fresh". The edges shouldn't be damaged because the tape will tear as you unroll it. There is the typical tan-colored stuff. Generally, it's not great stuff. Then, there is the blue "painter's tape". Generally this is better stuff for the use. There are also more expensive blue, yellow and green tapes. For most of our purposes in canoe building, these are overkill.

Packing Tape

The 3" wide clear or tan plastic tape used in shipping departments is great stuff. First, it's thin. It's reasonably tough stuff. It's best use is for coating forms that you're going to be doing glue-ups on. I have some boards (they're just that, boards) with a strip screwed to the top. I use them like type-setting boards for building feature strips. The surfaces that the strips sit on get covered with packing tape so they will not stick to the board. The benefit of the packing tape over masking tape for this application is that the glue comes off more easily and when done, it's a piece of cake to pull the tape off the wood.

Fiberglass Reinforced Packing Tape

Great stuff. Works like a charm on the edges of the forms. It's not easily torn by handling, strips or staples during the building process. Damaged masking tape allows a bit of glue to stick to the forms, sometimes requiring a sharp rap to release the hull. With the fiberglass reinforced stuff, this almost never happens. The downside is that it wrinkles as it wraps around the curves of the form. You also need a knife or scissors to cut the stuff.

I've also heard of this tape being used for staple-less construction to hold strips together.

Duct Tape

Like masking tape, duct tape is not created equally. There is the general purpose stuff which is OK for most things, there is the 3-M branded stuff which is quite good and then there is 100 MPH tape. 100 MPH tape is basically mil-spec duct tape that is incredibly tough and sticky stuff. It's waterproof and nearly indestructible. It's been used to repair bullet holes on jet aircraft. I'm sure with enough of the stuff you could make your own bulletproof vest. For boat building, I've not found a use for duct tape. Still, in the field, it is great stuff for temporary repairs on a damaged canoe until you can do a permanent fix. Recently, I heard duct tape referred to as "Adirondack Chrome" for it's field use!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

Today in the US, it is Mother's Day. Things started out normally enough for us here. DS, DD and I got DW some nice plants for the garden and she had some nice cards to open. I got up early, cleaned the kitchen and made a nice breakfast with scrambled Egg Beaters, fakin' bacon, toast, fresh melon and strawberries, coffee and a nice mimosa.

Still, this afternoon, we had to do our usual weekend routine. This involved a trip grocery shopping and then some yard chores for me. My major chore for the afternoon was mowing the lawn. At this point, all of the women reading this blog are about to declare me a chauvinist pig. I had my wife mow the lawn for me on Mother's Day.


I showed her how to use the mower and let her go on her way. Now the interesting thing from my point of view is that she's never mown a lawn.


For a woman who comes from a country that seems to take great pride in their gardening skills and a beautiful green countryside, I found this to be rather unusual. She claims that her father always did the mowing.

While she was mowing the lawn for me I went around and pulled out all of the dandelions that I could find. I had fleeting thoughts of going into the house, grabbing a beer and sitting on the deck with my feet up while she was mowing. Okay, so they were a bit more than fleeting thoughts. So tempting. I suppose that there were three things that kept me from doing this. First, I would have been sleeping on the couch for quite some time. Second, there was a serious fear of being struck by lightning. (Yep. Straight to hell. I was sure of it...) The third thing was my fear of a...



Chiefly British pranged , prang·ing , prangs

1. To crash (an airplane, for example).

2. To damage by colliding with (a car, for example)

3. To bomb from the air.

Ah yes. It is chiefly British. At one point in the past, my DW managed to back her new SUV out of the garage and into my car which was parked on the driveway - the other side of the driveway from the garage bay where she was parked. Anyway, because we have about 3/4 of an acre of grass, we have a rather substantial Husqvarna riding mower that costs a bit of money. I had some serious fears that she would run into something stationary and valuable or perhaps accidentally run into one of the cars in the driveway. (I know I've managed to do that...)

At any rate, she managed to get the mowing done and the the lawn didn't look too much like a Rhodesian Ridgeback from missed strips of grass. I also think she came away with a new appreciation of the fact that I'm not just out there relaxing when I'm mowing the lawn. I am actually working when mowing the lawn.

Now before you actually write me off as that guy in the greasy white tank-top drinking Miller Lite while his wife mows the lawn for him, she actually came walking across the lawn and asked to learn how to use the mower. I'm going to be away for a few weeks in the summer, and our lawn just will not go that length of time without being mowed. I'd return to a hayfield. Still, her choice of timing to learn was a bit odd, no?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Ever have one of those days...

When you just can't seem to get moving?
Today is one of those days.
All morning I seem to have been treading water.
I've decided that I need a little assist today.
Here we go...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


The objective of all dedicated company employees should be to thoroughly analyze all situations; anticipate all problems prior to their occurrence; have answers for these problems; and move swiftly to solve these problems when called upon...


...when you are up to your ass in alligators, it is difficult to remind yourself that your initial objective was to drain the swamp.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Picking up speed...

Ok, my buddy up above, the vulture has been circling around again. One of my milestone birthdays has been approaching for a bit now. (NOTE! It STILL isn't here yet.)

Today, a friend and his significant other were up visiting as this friend's niece got married yesterday. Being as how they aren't up in this area very often, we thought it would be great to have a bunch of friends together while they are here. My wife and my other friends who were here decided that this would be a good time to celebrate my impending oldness. My wife bought a cake and one or my friends brought a little package with some "interesting" things.

It included some of the following:


Reading Glasses

Gold Pond Powder


The obligatory "I'm XO - Over the Hill" Pin. Epsom Salts

The loofah on a handle for those places that you can't reach to wash anymore...

A denture bath and brush

A LARGE box of White-out for all the mistakes I'll be making. (ALWAYS needed that!)

Ok. so does this make me officially older than dirt?