Three Stepford Saturdays

I started writing this post a couple of days ago.

Today 5/27/11

Seventy-Six

This morning I got up early and mowed the one strip of lawn I wasn’t able to get last night before dark, the strip that runs the length of my driveway beside my next door neighbor’s house.  Then I raked the sticks on the patio and in the driveway that’ve been there since last week’s storm.  Put the sticks and debris at the curb by the mailbox, then got the leafblower and cleaned up everything else.  I mowed yesterday evening because my wife had found a tick on our son’s hand and I figured mowing the grass down from six to three-and-a-half inches would help disrupt arachnid and insect life-cycles.  I finished out there by about 8:30 pm and it was dark, then.  The John Deere 235E’s headlights are functional, and the mowing I’d done last night looked respectable in this morning’s sunlight.

The plan had originally been to spend the day paddling the RZ96 with my friend Daryl, but he hurt his back on the job last week.  Although it is pretty fast and unreal stable, the RZ96’s back”rests” are so so poorly designed that prolonged use would probably result in spondylolysis or similar disabling condition.  I recommended that Daryl take care of his back.

I’ve mentioned it so much on Facebook that I’ve forgotten I haven’t written anything about it here – starlings have infested the enclosed eaves/soffits above the window in the den where I sit as I write this.  I hate the damned birds, and I have done more than, by intensity of thought and speech consigned them to eternal torment.  I have destroyed the nest two or three times, hosed the nest out four or five times with a power-nozzle, liberally sprinkled their nest with moth crystals, times I’ve lost count of sprayed the nest with bird-repellant.  None of that has done more than to provoke angry shrieks.  Each time, the filthy winged histoplasmotic beasts have returned.  The day I had planned to give them minute-rice to eat, it rained.

tippmann_98_sniper_package_with_marker

Determined at last to kill the birds, I ordered a paintball gun with sniper rifle modifications:  18” rifled barrel; scope; offset scope mount; adjustable carbine-style stock; remote-line; Guerilla Air Myth 48/3000 HPA tank, and 500 .68 caliber clear mess-free paintballs (which are on backorder will not ship until maybe Tuesday 31 May); three-point tactical sling (how does it attach at the barrel?  Dunno), and largely decorative muzzle brake that does provide an attachment point for the sling.  Took the seller, www.choicepaintballguns.com, a while to get the order together (drop-shipped from a manufacturer or other source) because the "Flexi-Air” system I ordered was not available to fit the current iteration of the Tippmann 98 Custom Platinum (which is why I wound up getting the Guerrilla Air tank and remote line; CPBG has removed the package I ordered from its site), but the company’s owner, Dan, didn’t know that when I placed the order. 

When my order finally arrived, I was unable to get the local specialty gas/welding supply house to charge the Guerrilla Air tank because their fill apparatus does not connect to the tank’s 1/8” NPT Quik Connector fill nipple (we checked the Swagelok catalogue gas building’s office and their product wouldn’t work with the GA nipple).  Tech-support at www.guerrillaair.com wasn’t very helpful.  To the good, once I obtain the adapter, the welding supply company will be able to charge the tank with nitrogen at 3000 psi.  I’ve ordered an adapter from www.tippmannparts.com and I’ll let you know whether it works.All of these trifling small hassles, including the fact that my T98 shipped without a hopper, have been a real pain in the arse vis-à-vis my war with the starlings.  

As soon as I informed Dan at ChoicePaintballGuns he sent one out USPS Priority Mail.  The less expensive paintball hoppers are roughly kidney-shaped and look like those plastic bottles you have to urinate into if you’re bedridden in hospital.  The one delivered this afternoon has a lid that pops open when the marker (what the paintball cognoscenti call their guns) is fired, and pops open from the weight of the paintballs when the gun’s aimed at birds in the air.  The more expensive hoppers resemble bicycle helmets.  All of them mar any sort of “mil-sim” realism to the paintgun’s appearance.  I’d almost prefer a 15 round, inline tube sticking out the top right-side’s feed port for simplicity and target shooting.  Another type of feeder called the Q-Loader looks like an interesting solution, but expensive.

A final word about ChoicePaintballGuns.com – really easy to deal with and extremely helpful.  A Better Business Bureau A+ rated company, and the guy answering the phone, who’s also the owner, even laughed at a couple of my jokes.

I remember many years ago (20? Has it been that long?) when I lived at San Pedro, California, across the street from a bar called The Spot, my neighbors, brothers whose names will not appear in this blog, and I used my plastic paintball pistol to snipe at cars driving by through their living-room’s slit window that faced the intersection at 22nd Street and Pacific Avenue.  The gun used one of those little CO2 cartridges of the sort used to power drinks spritzers and held 10 maraschino-cherry-like paintballs in a tube above the barrel.  We never got caught, although we had a couple of close calls with angry motorists who objected to the sensation of something striking their vehicles, as well as to the red smears left by broken paintballs.

Jeff-Sighting

Paintball guns appear to have evolved a great deal since the early 1990s, but a rifle scope remains a nonfunctional accessory.  My neighbor Jeff, ex USMC, rifle-team, combat veteran and generally smart, capable guy was happy to help me this morning with the chore of sighting-in the scope.  After an hour and a half, we were still much more accurate sighting down the barrel.  We tried the offset mounting option, then monkeyed with the sight mounted along the top-rail.  No joy.  Jeff said, “There doesn’t seem to be enough ‘up’ to this (scope)” in order to make the necessary vertical adjustment.  Shooting at the target, most of our shots hit way low and to the right.

First-GroupStained-Target

It was clear to me that I probably should have ordered a red/green-dot sight instead of the rubber-armored rifle scope.  The Tippmann 98’s front sight is slightly spring-loaded, small blivit that does not have enough profile for the shooter to line it up with the rear sight.  Jeff and I both shot better sighting down the barrel than using the scope’s crosshairs.

My son came out to observe while Jeff and I (mostly Jeff) were working on the scope.  Later on he came out again while I was shooting at cans and wanted to load paintballs for me.  He also likes playing with the paintballs – tactile pleasure of little marble-like things.  He found the noise of the airgun unpleasant and complained by covering his ears with his hands.  Once or twice he wanted to pull the trigger, but almost immediately changed his mind.

We turned the velocity all the way up.  It’s not like I plan to do much with this gun besides potting at birds and plinking at cans and milk cartons in the backyard.  To that end, after Jeff figured he’d done all he could do to make the T98 serviceable and had gone to visit our other neighbors who were seated near their fishpond, I set up targets.  Two cans and a milk carton out of the house on sticks at the base of a tree like like the severed heads of ancestral enemies displayed made more interesting targets lower to the ground.  Birds make good targets when they’re on the ground, too, but none obliged me this morning.

Better-TargetsLike-CadburysHere-to-There

Because I never was able to get Guerrilla Air tank filled, I bought a couple of cheap CO2 canisters at Wal-Mart and got them filled at Race Connection for six bucks total.  I wasn’t expecting to get many shots out of the tanks, but by the time I was done for the day, I’d fired about 200 shots with one bottle and it still had some left when I put it away.  The orange paint smears hosed off the shed and the tree.  According to the product literature on the box, the paintballs I used have something called Eco-Fill that does not stain clothing or structures and biodegrades easily.  Certainly, I was favorably impressed by the ease with which I was able to clean up the orange smears.

I didn’t kill or harass the starlings today.  One day during the week I found a few minutes to get the ladder out and get up to the nest thinking I would again destroy it or soak it down a harsh-smelling bird repellant, and then stuff some steel wool into the birds’ access gap, but when I got up there I saw about five hatchlings squeaking for worms or whatever it is their parents feed them.  I climbed back down, put the ladder and steel wool away without harming the birds or destroying their nest.  I am told that within six weeks they will take wing and not return to the nest, so I’ll clean it out and stop the hole then.

Last Saturday 5/21/11

Two or three weeks ago while I was out in the back yard playing with Seventy-Six we went over and said “Hello” to our neighbor Deanna, she is Jeff’s wife, and was just then looking after her two young granddaughters, one of whom is a little older and the other a little younger than my son.  He enjoyed playing with them, and Deanna asked me if I had any plans for Saturday morning 21 May.  No, not really, what’s happening then?  Deanna said she and her husband had a couple of tickets for the annual Kiwanis Club Prayer Breakfast at Stepford’s First Big Arminian Church, and would I like to have them.  Sure, I’d be happy to have them.

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I invited my friend and congregation’s pastor to attend with me.  We don’t get to hang out much, and he’s a guy who’s much smarter than I am theologically (and maybe full-stop) and whose company I enjoy.  In my very limited experience with things culturally Christian, a prayer breakfast is usually a pancake festival with second helpings encouraged and an early morning, come as you are, more-manly-than-usual church activity.  I wore my favorite T-shirt, a pair of khaki cargo shorts, and those New Balance trail runners.  Upon arrival, I quickly discovered that I was underdressed for the occasion; Theodore, with a wider experience of North American Christian subcultural mores, was appropriately attired for the occasion.  A large number of men present wore suits.

Because I ‘d read again, and while the guy’s lack of insight or depth of character is glaring his comedic prose made me laugh out loud two or three times, the three chapters in Matt Taibbi’s The Great Derangement dealing with his infiltration of blowhard John Hagee’s Texas mega-“church”, I brought my copy along for Theodore’s amusement.  He, in turn, loaned me his copy of Kevin Roose’s The Unlikely Disciple.  Maybe more about Roose’s book another time.

Unlikely

I saw one of my neighbors, a local industrialist I like and respect (he’s not from around here), and a retired colleague I was pleased to see.  Theodore saw a couple of his former parishioners from his time a First Big Southern Church of Rural County Seat one county over.  The meal was a one-serving affair of eggs, ham or bacon (I opted for bacon and was given one slice so I asked for ham, instead, and didn’t have to give my bacon slice back), a side I don’t remember, orange-juice and coffee.

The 21st was also the date Harold Camping had scheduled for the return of Christ to take his people out of the world (or Rapture them) prior to the Great Tribulation.  And I wanted to see whether the Arminians had gotten worked up over this much publicized event.  At their most extreme, Arminians believe they are constantly in peril of losing their salvation and their holiness.  Their theological workaround is to narrowly define sin as “a willful transgression against a known law of God.”  Sort of like the common law definition of burglary is, if memory serves, "a trespassory breaking and entering into a dwelling in the nighttime with the intent to commit a felony therein.”  All the elements must be present for the act or omission to act to meet the definition of sin.  Anything less falls under the category of “mistake.”  I can think of no better reason for the average Arminian to avoid Bible reading, because that’s probably a good way to get know the laws of God, in addition to a bunch of other God-related information.  A lot of “end-times” misinformation can be found in garage-sale discards penned by Hal Lindsey, a Joe Stalin lookalike who popularized the Dispensationalist idea of pre-millennial eschaton (have I spelled that correctly?).

The occasion, it turns out, was an Armed Forces Day prayer breakfast. A presentation was made to the chapter’s chosen Layperson of The Year – a retired banker with whom I am slightly acquainted. A young woman of angelic voice played piano and sang three songs, one of which I recall that my wife’s sister sang at our wedding.  The event’s main speaker was a Nashville TV news weatherman (I don’t think he’s actually a meteorologist).  His talk was a biographical tale of determination and somewhat generic faith that referred to values all in a way that could have been well received by Moslems, Zoroastrians, Mooney’s, Christians, Jews, and perhaps even Taoists.  The weatherman did make a little joke about Harold Camping’s prediction, and none of those present looked at all worried about Camping’s forecast.

At the time I found myself thinking about the practice of civil religion in America and how my life rarely intersects with it.  Also thinking about the “church”-system as what passes for church in North America and about how much money it takes to keep it all going – not just the dyed-in-the-wool thieving televangelists, but also the widely accepted as legitimate mainstream or niche-market/boutique Evangelical church-building set.

Overall, I had a pleasant experience at the prayer breakfast, but I’m glad I was there with a friend who was able to assure me that no, it wasn’t all in my head.  Winsome people doing good things in a pleasant environment as they have been doing for a couple of generations.  But I don’t think it can last and I’m a little sad about that.

The Saturday Before That 5/14/11

I’m not scared of black cats, dates and days, ladders, shadows, or similar frightful things, so I wasn’t afraid to drive like the hammers of mythical Hades toward home over a slightly winding highway at the end of my working day week.  I wasn’t afraid when the car didn’t handle the curves as well as it did just the day before, and thought, “Probably needs shocks.  I’d like to get some heavier sway bars, maybe a strut-tower brace.”  Back at the house, the front right tire looked a little low and I thought it was time I checked the air pressure in all four.  But I went into the house, ate dinner, and forgot about it.

In the morning when I went out to pick up sticks from the yard before mowing, I saw the tire was close to flat and filled it.  Then I drove to the Pot County seat where I knew I’d find a tire store open Saturday.  I had to wait a couple of hours before the service guys repaired the leak.  Instead of sitting around in the waiting room, I walked across the parking lot to look at the Little Waterfowl River that runs beside the store.  No good way to get down the steep muddy hill for a closer look, I walked along the highway in front of the store, past a shack/trailer-like red painted barbecue stand (closed at that hour), and walked up the road to the right thinking maybe I’d find easier access to the river.  I didn’t, but I kept walking along the road as it curved uphill into fairly nice-seeming neighborhood I’d never seen before and would’ve never guessed was there. 

Where the road curved back down the hill to the highway again, I met a man and a woman walking.  The man wore a complicated brace arrangement that involved chest, one arm, and his head.  I said Good Morning to them and they greeted me.  A little farther along and houses looked smaller and less impressively built and well maintained.  I saw a woman sweeping a front porch, little more than a stoop.  Four or five mostly black puppies ran toward me barking, wagging tails, looking happy.  The woman called to them and they went to her.  She apologized for them and I told her it wasn’t necessary.

Back at the tire store, I did finally have a cup of their bad coffee, looked at a couple of issues of Field & Stream, and watched the final fifteen minutes of a John Wayne movie – a Western filmed toward the end of his career, I don’t remember what it’s called.  When tire was patched I paid for the repair and drove home.

Goals

Cussword Freaking Rain

UPDATE: Cussword Freaking Rain is interfering with my plans for the day.

Today I’m taking another run at the Pionier 450-S keelstrip project.  Remember last time I found that the floor of my garage wasn’t clean-room appropriate for the application of toluene to the approximately 13′ strip’s underside.  In a “D’oh!” moment last week, it occurred to me that I could clean it and keep it clean if I put it upside-down on the hull of the inverted Pionier over sawhorses making a semi-clean work surface under a tree in the driveway.

Hullwork

Pionier 450 S inverted on sawhorses in my workshop

I know that Mark’s instructions for keelstrips call for perfection, but I’ve never been able to manage perfection in the realm of DIY projects.  Historically, I’ve had a hard time figuring out how quarter-round needs to be cut to fit in to and around corners.  That stuff’s baffling.

Because it’s essentially a 2.5″ x 13′ ribbon of synthetic rubber and fabric, the hypalon keelstrip ribboned off the boat’s hull at one point, and I cussed asking God to judge the matter and send it to the hottest place as I caught it in loops and kept it, mostly, off the ground.  That happened as I was rolling the strip with the clean-side out, per instructions, before putting it in it’s bag to stay clean until called for.

I tried to use one of my razors to debride the worn places along the keel, but that didn’t work.  It tended instead to fuzz the edges out somewhat.  So I’ll just have to slop on the glue and stick the strip down extra hard hoping for a good bond.  I will have to measure again, mark, sand, clean, and mask the hull along the keel before painting on the neoprene cement.  The chemical fumes may get me in touch with my left brain and result in better work.  I can at least hope so.

Other goals for the day include a long walk, other fitness activities, cleaning out the little “frog-shaped” pool in the yard Seventy-Six has been using to splash in, assembling the E-68, and washing the 850.  Tomorrow I think I’d like to paddle and mow the lawn.

SECOND UPDATE 2:25 PM:

Downspout

As the rain began to fall in the morning, Seventy-Six and I ran around in the yard kicking the basketball

The rains stopped two or three hours ago, and I was able to get the hull re-marked, wiped down with toluene, taped, and have applied the first coat of neoprene cement.  Humidity’s relatively high, but this is the day and place I have to work with, so I will hope for the best.  Thanks to the chemical fumes, the gnomes in my noggin are feeling pretty active and have found their hammers.  In hoping for the best, I am hoping the left brain gnomes make contact with the right brain gnomes and some sort of equilibrium ensues thereafter.

Taped

Hull is taped prior to application of neoprene cement

Rubber Cement

Neoprene Cement

LATER: When I removed the masking tape from the hull, some of the glue pulled off, too.  At the bow I noticed it first, and brushed on more neoprene cement, let it dry, then began at the stern to gingerly remove the rest of the tape.  Got most of it removed without too much trouble.  I tried to follow Mark’s printed instructions for applying the strip to the glue (although I never did remove the hull’s endcaps and bumpers).  I used a wooden spoon as a “hard object” to press firmly down on the keelstrip as directed to smooth out any air bubbles or wrinkles.

Cement Problems

Results of masking tape removal

Glue Strip

By the time I had got about two feet of keelstrip down on the hull, I was aware of problems with the strip sticking on the side of the boat furthest from me.  The edges didn’t seem to be staying down “right.”  I completed the process anyway, and then went back over the entire length of the keelstrip with the wooden spoon to see if that would correct the problem.  In some spots it did.

At the places where the edge was not stuck down, I brushed in a little more of the cement, then used the spoon to press the strip down and smooth it out.  That seemed to work.  I’ll know for sure in a couple of days after the application has had a chance to “cure.”  If it doesn’t work, I can always paddle the kayak until the hull wears through and then order a new one from Wayland.

Parties, Houses, No Paddling This Weekend

My youngest brother’s youngest child turned six, so my mom had everyone over for a birthday party Friday night.  On Saturday, we celebrated the 94th birthday of the oldest surviving male in the family.  Young Seventy-Six was a happy baby Friday night, and a fussy baby Saturday.

Since we got a new DVD player sans VHS player, we’re getting rid of your VHS tapes.  Gave several of them to my brother’s family at my mom’s house:

  1. Dr. No
  2. From Russia With Love
  3. Goldfinger
  4. Thunderball
  5. The World is Not Enough
  6. Braveheart
  7. The Fifth Element
  8. And some Anne of Green Gables collections for the little girl

Yesterday afternoon, my wife and I drove out into the country to look at a house on four acres in a neighboring county.  Barns and outbuildings.  I liked it, but it’s out of our price range.  We drove through a neighborhood that’s got five houses bigger than ours for sale well within our price range.  But the neighborhood.  Creepy.  Not a Twilight Zone neat-as-a-pin with no one about creepy (which sounds pretty good to me), but a grubby X-Files creepy.  Last time I really drove through there, maybe seven or eight years ago, it looked a lot better.

We’re planning to go out again with a realtor this afternoon to see the insides of some houses.

Caution-Lady’s going to bag church today as she’s stressed about upcoming parent-teacher conferences, and wishes to get some things done.  Cafe-Church pastor had surgery to remove cancer and a kidney last week, so he will not be in the pulpit today.  A Sewanee student from Flintville will be preaching.

I really need to wash the white car sometime soon.

Got all the line-trimming, mowing done yesterday afternoon before dark.  I’ll be glad when the pear tree is done producing and dropping fruit for the season.

Calling for Thunderstorms

The National Weather Service was calling for thunderstorms in the vicinity of Stepford today, so my wife suggested I stay home with her and Squally-Boy. Drove to the hardware store this morning to buy four metric bolts and some washers to use when installing back-bands in the RZ9-96, bought a small bottle of Gorilla Glue for one of the small antique Klepper paddles that came with the antique Klepper sail-rig I’ve got, and some cheap garden gloves.

On the way home I remembered Jack-And-The-Beanstalk, so I stopped at a used car lot and inspected the 1989 Ford Econoline Falcon van conversion with matching trailer I’ve admired for two or three months. The lot’s trying to sell it for a retired Marine Corps pilot. The ultimate car-camping machine – stove, refrigerator, sink, toilet, standing room, loft bed above the front seats, and a bed in back, awning, generator, big air conditioner on the roof so you can sleep cool. With today’s gas prices, the old gentleman will be lucky to sell it, although it looks in good condition. I didn’t buy it.

Back home and moved a pile of bricks left behind after the decrepit red shed was torn down and removed.

Mowed for the third time this season, then ran the line-trimmer. Although the buttercups are no longer in bloom, a number of other things are. With the exception of small violets, equally small yellow somethings, dandelions, and the buttercups, nearly everything in the yard blooms white.

Something pink was blooming in the front yard. I snapped a picture of it, however it didn’t turn out well. I’m disappointed I got the focus wrong on the rightmost picture above. My wife said she saw rabbits in the yard during February and early March, so this year I will refrain from spreading pesticide to kill the grubs that feed the moles that tunnel the earth beneath the yard that I must mow. I was surprised when she said she’d seen the rabbits, because on walks I have seen red foxes, and I’m not sure what, but some predator has been keeping the squirrel population down – hardly see them hereabouts.

After the yard work, I assembled the Einer-68 preparatory to mounting atop my car for the first time. Its frame is beautifully symmetric, and it seems a shame to cover it with the worn and faded skin that makes a kayak of it. The PVC hull is supple in the warmer weather, therefore easier to handle. I’m planning to keep the boat assembled in order to facilitate impromptu paddles, because I’m more likely to use the boat of an afternoon or early morning if I don’t have to spend full 50 minutes assembling and rigging it.

Ralph Hoehn suggested this boat doesn’t require a cradle or foam blocks arrangement for cartopping, so I cinched it down with straps that came with the Folbot cart I bought for the Square-Stern I mentioned in my previous post (it didn’t work with that boat, but we sometimes use it with the RZ-96). Also tried out the Yakima bow and stern tie-downs I purchased week before last. Everything seemed to work, and I drove out to Woods Reservoir to see how the silver car handled with a boat on the roof as opposed to in the trunk. Noticed slight difference in handling and pickup, but nothing much. On a windy day, handling may be more severely affected.

Maybe I’ll paddle tomorrow afternoon; the National Weather Service is calling for thunderstorms again. It never did storm today, only a light rain fell around 7:00 am.