Tell you what:  Last bit of winter up until Memorial Day is about as good as it gets for getting outside projects done.  Ides of Match party it is.  A work party.

History of the Ides in a nutshell?  Wiki it:

“It was marked by several religious observances and was notable for the Romans as a deadline for settling debts[2]. In 44 BC, it became notorious as the date of the assassination of Julius Caesar. The death of Caesar made the Ides of March a turning point in Roman history, as one of the events that marked the transition from the historical period known as the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire.

(Continues below…)


Around the Ides is when some of the best working weather of the year shows up.  Why people take vacations in the summer – where many places it’s just too damn hot to get anything done on your personal agenda – has always been a mystery to me.  Spring is best, if you ask me.  Housing building weather.

But, then again, I don’t know what your “outside working weather preferences” are.  Mine come from growing up in a big city – with frequent long bike rides (50-mile a day types) and believe me, as “Young and Strong like Hop-a-Long” as we may have been both me (and my retired bud “the major” always preferred to do the hard part of a long ride early.  Before noon and before the heat of the day sets in.

I’ve mentioned this many times, but if you draw the lines around the world – using scatter-plotting software to map out where inventions come from, you’ll find there is a “sweet spot” that runs from maybe 25-30 north of the equator to about 50 north.

Pet theory has always been that it’s the ideal living but it requires planning.  So in this zone, you get a winter, but summers can be hot.  But, in the right kind of river valleys with enough rain (we get 50-60 inches a year here in East Texas, right?) you’ve got a part of the problem licked.

Still, I prefer some exertion to cause my sweat, not just stepping outdoors.

While that’s a kind of agricultural outlook, it also folds over well into manufacturing.

In the old days, factories were not that comfortable to work in.  HVAC wasn’t widely used.  But, with a high  ceiling in a tin building and a bunch of air turbines set it, you could get something of a cooling chimney effect.  It’s a good use of the “stack effect” if you don’t know of it.

Honestly, I didn’t get enough time outside on projects Wednesday.

Still, going through the project “hit list” for the day was great.  Got some paperwork done with Elaine (a relative passed away not long ago and there’s paperwork for the executor).

Then, it was time to get the high-speed super modem fired up to get the 254 MB bandwidth I’ve suffered 9-years of withdrawal from.  Got to 9 MB up and 5 down…which will have to do until the software update cycle…but it’s a great start.

Next up was converting our cell phone over to a new Samsung $200-class phone. A little bigger – better for aging eyes and hands.

We’ve been Tracfone customers for a long time because mostly, we can’t get cellular out here enough to make a “plan” worthwhile.  Coverage ends about 1.5 miles from the house at “hog holler.”   New phone is persnickety about using the wifi networks at the house…so a good rainy-day tweaker project to fill in.  (What happened to retirement?)

A trip to town to pick up a prescription in early afternoon was beautiful.  Fresh grass is up and it’s green enough to be the envy of the Irish (two days from now is St. Bushmill’s Day).   At the pharmacy, I try to be a few extra Pill Bottles.

If you have a hobby with lots of small pieces – like jewelry-making, beading, or in my case working on electronics, it doesn’t take much time at all to come up with a grand collection of small parts that’s organized.  (Gimme a Hallelujah!! brothers and sisters!)

Besides the weather being grand (50 at night, 75 in the afternoon – which is so close to perfect I can’t stand it) there’s also this Spring Ritual of organizing and cleaning.

Pill bottles are something I’d seen done in my youth.  Pappy used to tie flies for trout fishing.  He was the inventor of one he christened the Lake Jameson Shrimp.  We must have caught hundreds of good -sized (16-18″ trout) with ’em.  Can count the times I heard another fireman say “Hey Cap!  Going to Jameson  on my next five dayer…got any of those shrimp tied up?”

Jameson Lake, which is over in Eastern Washington, sits down in a coulee which was once, we were told, a tributary of the Columbia River when the ice sheets were melting.  The lake was deep and cold – so into June, and even early July, the trout never tasted muddy like they did in the shallower lakes around the Sun Lakes State Park campground.

North end of Lake Jameson was best…and with the boat launching ramp at the south end, as the afternoon wind came up (*generally from the north), you could troll all the way back to the launch ramp without oars or outboard.  Almost planned on half a dozen trout along the way.

I digress:  Pappy teased and trimmed all kinds of feathers and furs and stuffed them into pill bottles just so.

What people didn’t have then were things like the earlier version of the Brother P-Touch QL-500 Manual-Cut PC Label Printing System that spits out electronic component labels.  Best $65 bucks spent at my desk that year.,

One caution:  If you do put labels on the pill bottles, they won’t stick for more than a few days to weeks.  Parting compound. You need to finish the wrap around the whole container with an inch or two of Scotch tape to cinch it up or they will unwind. Look like a herd of baby chicks with their labels spread.  Or not.

Spring Organizer II

Another little gem I ran into (while trying to find a way to get all the small stuff off my desk corralled), was this great little artist toolbox. a Vencer 5 Drawer Wood Art Storage Box for Pencil, Pen, Pastel, Marker Set VAO-003 which is about $38-bucks.

The plan on this one is simple:  Place it under the high-speed scanner.  That’s where I will let all the “junk” and “tabletop clutter” go.

At any one moment I have 2-3 pairs of glasses,  mailing labels,  pens, markers, a tube of Neosporin for knicks and cuts in the shop, BandAids, (no shop project is really complete without some bloodshed!), and lemme see: stamps, eye drops, paper clicks, a couple of small remotes for the A/C and the sound system, letter openers (one’s electric, don’t tell Al Gore).

Then toss in the Post-Its, the extra staples…..super glue.  Scissors…”scanned” stamp…oh there’s all that small crap.

At what looks like 17-inches wide, I may be able to get both the scanner and the phone on top of it…there’s an antique Western Electric alligator-skin collectable to deal with.  Back in mahogany foxhole days, right?

While box should make a dent in the mess though I feel a lot like the Charles Schulz  character PigPen when I’m project-mode or writer’s frenzy.

The last piece of the puzzle will be a new 10 port USB hub.  And some very, very short charging cables.  ZiBay Micro USB Short Sync Cable for Select Models/Device, 7-Inch – Pack of 5 s a $7 add-on project.  Thing is, I have two keyboards to charge, Logitec wireless headphones, the Kindle 10, and occasional other goodies.

7-port hub’s been great, but the peripherals are getting too damn profuse.  Two printers, scanner, two cameras, biometrics access whizzy, need more charger ports and on it goes…

Part of what makes Friday special around here:  I dream up all these cockamamie project ideas Sunday through Tuesday and click like a madman online.   “The goods” drop in Thursday and Friday.  Really works out great.

OK, off to this morning’s Market which closed yesterday taking a good-sized step closer to my imminent collapse on the 22nd theory…

Write when you get rich,