ShopTalk 2021: Tools Extend Life!

Almost 72, Planning Still Works

Happy Aging Zone?  There is a delightful balancing place most of us can find, with a little effort.  It comes down to three concepts we’ve covered on Peoplenomics and here this year.  For those who missed, these concepts revolve to form a “balanced life.”

  • It’s marvelous to have/be-in  a relationship with someone who returns the favor.
  • Time set aside for learning and study pays huge dividends via improved thinking and mental acuity.
  • And “working with our hands” is the personal form of magick.  “Abracadabra!”  “As I speak,  I Create (or do).”

There are also three hacks to keeping your brain-mind relationship humming:

  • The ‘center Self’ has the role of a Judge.  That “voice in our heads” (driven by fear, experience gone bad, and such) needs to be “silenced by the Judge” who instead will point to physical Externalities — Reality itself.  Referencing reality is good….
  • Each day is lived with the “Judge” looking through the “viewfinder of Life” – mentally “filming it all.”  Because (like it or not) the odds are extremely high that the phrase “life flashed before my eyes…”  – common among those who have had a “near Death experience (NDE) – is true.  What are you bringing to this “film festival at The End?”
  • And there’s a hack to this “movie-making” – because what you choose to remember –  even if from dreams or self-guided meditations – is just as real in your “Life  Film” as the life experienced directly through sensory inputs.  Kinda like CGI…but faster and better resolution.

Toss in absolute total honesty and you’ve got the makings of a high-functioning Doer.

2020 –  Our Priorities Shifted

We have a ton of projects that didn’t come to fruition this year.  Because life – like golf – will sometimes not only land you in the rough, but it will change the whole game on you.

When we learned earlier this year Elaine would need hip replacements – and then got those scheduled for early 2021 – neither one of us understood how much impact they would have.  She has a terribly painful time just walking from the kitchen to then living room.  We hope the surgery doesn’t get CV delayed on us.

A lot of project-time has gone to dealing with a lack of mobility.  Ure has been back to his (“watch me put on weight!”) grand cookery self.  Unlike living on a sailboat, we’re not as active though.  We bought another scale this year.  Didn’t help much.

More on this in a minute (see “Pizza” at end).  Beyond this, I’ve been working on streamlined meal plans, finding new ways for Elaine to better cope, and so forth.

It’s been an adjustment for her, as well.  Until this year,  “the house” has been entirely her domain; “the office and shop” was mine.

The mindset each of us has – about running the house – is a study in contrasts.

Elaine is an artist She considers things and is always fine-tuning on the go.  Perfection often results.

My approach is different:  I make house-running a game of “See how many machines I can get doing my work for me at the same time!

My idea of a house is one where the washer, dryer, crockpot, oven, and vacuum cleaner are all working overtime.  While playing an audible while in the studio, a dub-down is coming off a reel-to-reel tape machine while sloshing down a beer.  If the cat gets in the way, oh well…

Elaine’s countenance is not based on power-tool harmony.  To each their own.  We respect each-others way.

No Excuses: It’s All Learning

This is not a series of “excuses” though. 

I’ve enjoyed every step of the way.  I know more about Topricin Pain Relief Therapy Cream, Dr Kay’s Adjustable Height Bath and Shower Chairand the ArcMate EZ Pro Reacher Grabber Pick Up Tool than I ever wanted to know.

Remember, 72 will come for me in a couple of months, so my attitude towards “getting things done” has dramatically changed this year.  Elaine’s momentary delays in mobility have been a marvelous blessing, however well-disguised!

Take for example how “the bug man” was replaced by me (and a lifetime supply of glue boards) to catch scorpions and other critters common to Texas.  Instead of writing a $500-check every year, the combination of CV-19 and Elaine’s walking issues got me doing all that pest control stuff.

But now, armed with the (thank you!) reacher/grabber, I can roll through the whole property laying out fresh traps faster than a 25-year old pest technician.  Well, almost….

Now, as I get a bead on 2021, the Frederick Winslow
Taylor in me has come out – in spades!  Know him?

Frederick Winslow Taylor (March 20, 1856 – March 21, 1915) was an American mechanical engineer who sought to improve industrial efficiency. He was one of the first management consultants. Taylor was one of the intellectual leaders of the Efficiency Movement and his ideas, broadly conceived, were highly influential in the Progressive Era (1890s–1920s).”

Implementing Change – Broadly

We all live in a “mental pasture” which has soft self-imposed limits around it.  Kind of like “mental barbed wire.” 

Keeps us from constantly tearing down the fences and risking new adventures.  Keeps most people “thinking like everyone else…”

One trick to fool aging is to recognize that one reason people “grow old and die” is because there’s nothing else to do.  (God, do we have that fixed!)

Couching out Life?  That’s a hell of a way to live.  When I hear stories about how someone “Worked for 40-years, then retired to the couch and didn’t get up for five-years till he died…”  I can’t imagine a greater human  tragedy.  People write their own scripts, though.  I like adventures, not death-drama, thanks.

I have more dreams, more projects, more energy, more ambition, and even more resources now than at any time in my personal history.  I can literally do anything.

The ugly secret is?  ANYONE CAN.  It’s all in your attitude and outlook.

Take the canceling of the bug man.  Didn’t want to do it.  Good guy (the most recent one).  But, it was someone who came from outside the “green zone” of CV-19 protection, so it was a risk to eliminate.

Along the way?  Those reacher/grabbers are not in every room in the house.

  • In the studio, when a reel retainer dropped and rolled under an equipment rack, guess what tool was at the ready?
  • Instead of Elaine bending over tow feed Zeus on the porch, it’s the 32″ version of the reacher.
  • When I smack, a golf ball out on the property, no hand going down into tall grass – there’s a 40-incher in the golf bag.
  • In the shop, there’s a 40″and a 32″ on  the half-wall by the miter saw.
  • In the living room, if a small remote gets dropped…well, you get the picture…

Now, we could whine and feel sorry all day long, but there it is: A simple $27-tool and life gets no harder than it was before.  Except the operating costs came down on the self-done pest control.  (Want me to write that up?  It’s not that hard…)

Tool Use Matters

There are a number of big, heavy projects ahead in 2021.

The most interesting (next weekend more on my solar add-ons to our existing solar lash-up) involves some real construction.  Welding, rebar, setting T-Post, trenching in wire and a whole-lot more.

Thing is – having learned from Elaine’s fast adoption of the “reachers” – there are hacks for nearly everything ahead

Example 1:  I didn’t think about it – but trenching in the  heavy copper cable for the additional solar panels would constitute real-actual work.  Instead of pick-axe time, though, an old 110V electric chain saw may be put to use to get a first pass done.

Example 2:  Part of the new solar panel holder (there are 10- 265-watt panels waiting to go up) involves a 40-foot line rebar and spacer” beam.  What’s the simple source for “beam spacers?”  eBay!  Amazon! Welder “coupons!”

OK, you may not have much “hands-on” with “welder coupons” but when I was teaching myself to weld, I wanted to weld – not spend all year on the plasma cutter and grinder to make up practice materials.  So… a few clicks later?  Welding Cube Kit 2-PACK 2X2X11 Gauge And 2X2X1/4 (Contains 12 (6ea 11g and 6ea 1/4) 2″ Square Coupons).

Is it perfect?  Not quite – but damn near – and the savings in prep time?  Let’s just say at “this end of life” every second means something!

Same with putting in T Post with the impact driver/demolition hammer.

Step one?  Buy a 1.75″ wide 24″ long “earth auger” (Metal Earth Auger/Ground Auger Drill Bit 24″ Long 1.75″ Wide Helix, 8 mm Diameter Non-Slip Hex Shank – under $22)  and toss that into the battery-powered impact driver.  Whoo-hoo!

Aug out a hole 12″ deep, fill with water and let sit for a few minutes each.  Stick in T-Post, and turn on the next power tool. Demolition hammer with T-Post head.  No way has T-Post ever been so easy.

Anyway, there’s a little more to it than that:  It helps to hit the end of the T-Post with the plasma cutter to rough-out a point…but you see how this works?

When you encounter a problem in life:  Size up the problem.  Engineer graceful answers.  Buy tools and implements as needed.  And then get ‘it done!

I’d write more, but sun’s up and the compressor is on making air for the plasma rig.  Holiday weekend?  Joy of Making never takes a day off.

Why would it?  Besides, one of those Tyson pot roast kits is already in the crockpot.  Which is another well-engineered solution to dinner, since we use the “slow cooker bags” which means zero clean-up time on the pot…

Point is?  Think about it:  How much is pot-scrubbing worth?  Under $6 for Reynolds Kitchens Slow Cooker Liners, Regular (Fits 3-8 Quarts), 12 Total.  Is it worth 50-cents NOT to wrestle with a hot crock pot?  Not a hard call these days…not a hard call, at all!

Last Note:  Pizza Temp

Pre-made pizza people know nothing about making pizza.  Ure’s secret recipe for kick-ass pizza even from store-bought?

  • You MUST have a pizza stone.
  • You must have the oven at 550.
  • We use a Di Giorno thin crust Suprema as a base to build on.
  • Thaw the pizza for a half-hour to 45-min.
  • Add 4-5 fresh sliced mushrooms.
  • 1/2-1 cup of additional “mutz” – more is good. Just remember your cardiologist and strike the balance that way…

It’s not the 90-second bake time (900F) or classic Neapolitan, but way the hell better than any other frozen “by directions” crap. 12-minutes or so and marvelous.  You may need the stove hood on high for the smoke.  Turn 4-5 times with a pizza paddle…serve with a gallon of Carlo Rossi.

Write when you get rich,

39 thoughts on “ShopTalk 2021: Tools Extend Life!”

  1. :Take for example how “the bug man” was replaced by me (and a lifetime supply of glue boards) to catch scorpions and other critters common to Texas. ”

    Lol my five year old grandson loves snakes… he asked me if I knew how to trap them.. wise old grandpa said sure.. down to get a shipping tube..
    Painted it up with glue and the ends removed.. we set it..
    Came back and.. then he says …lets let it loose….lol lol lol..he didn’t want to get rid of them .. just save them from his dad killing them…lol lol.. so there I am with peanut oil trying to set it free…lol lol

  2. Hey Chief,

    Ure not too old to have a Birthday Party R U ? Come on Man!

    Time to start planning for Bitcoins Birthday next Sunday the 3rd of January –

    ! Muppet style –

    not digging the Swedish style celebration ??

    U Must be Russians – right markus?

    ..well then LCN gotz U covered – from Red Square..with LUV – might wanna turn it up.

    As alwayz – No BTC 4 U! .. dam tulips.

    Hey did a unverified source say something about house 2 house hunting “parties” 4 “communist” politicians/traitors, during DC vote rally.
    – in a commie State by State kinda way? what was that FumbleingBumblingIdiots hotline number again..?

  3. A thought on the old electric chainsaw as a trenching tool. Tried that one myself a few years back. Here on El Rancho de Chaos we raise mostly rocks and trees along with a few steers. When I needed to run a snort line to an electric fence charger there was no room to get a machine close enough for 10 feet of the trench. I thought of the Old Monkey Wards electric 14″chainsaw and brought the old boy out. I spent about an hour putting the chain back on. It would jump off each time I would find another rock and in the last case a tree root. I got about halfway through the job when the gear box flew apart and the bar dropped off letting the chain still attached to the motor and sprocket to swing wildly. Don’t even want to think about the outcome if it had wrapped around a nearby arm of leg.
    Point is be damn careful.
    I did make up a giant pizza cutter last week from an old 10 inch saw blade for laying new radials. Works pretty spiffy and I can also use it for dispatching Zombies.
    73 Peace

      • Use a tapered pickaxe handle. It has enough meat on the working for that 12″ slot and the 5/8 bolt and provides a little extra forward weight. This next to my brush hook make dandy mele weapons.

      • We’re too old to mele. If 15 rounds won’t stop [whatever] we plan to yell “F-You” and launch the bahng drone.

        Reminds me it would make a fascinating interview with someone from BATF to have them honestly answer the question: “So when does creative engineering with a knowledge of radio, 3d printing, and remotely piloted vehicles leave “creative” and become “terrorist?”

        Not an impertinent question since we suspect that a knowledge of RVs and 5G clearly left the rails this weekend….

    • “I did make up a giant pizza cutter last week from an old 10 inch saw blade for laying new radials.”

      …Made one of those a few years back, for laying buried sensor and “Invisible Fence” wire. I combined it with an old bicycle fork, chain-link top rail (extension and handle), and some creative welding, to make it as easy to use as a measuring wheel (“rolling tape measure…”)

      • I have never seen that before, but my husband made something up like this on the fly, took a 3/4″ pipe, added a huge nut to the end, hammered a metal point on the tip of the pipe and banged it through with a sledgehammer, easy peasy, and didn’t need to buy a thing, AND he left enough of a hole at the end that we just ran our electric wire right through the pipe easy peasy. Just in case anyone wants a do it yourselfer and save some money.

      • “me
        December 27, 2020 at 18:19
        I have never seen that before, but my husband made something up like this on the fly,”

        I watched the utility company run conduit like this.. what was funny is they had an end cone that looked like a shoe horn on the end to get it to go over a rock they turned the shoe horn to go under the same thing turn corners.. it was pretty impressive.. on the end they had a hammer mill and a vibrator..

  4. George, when I needed to trench, I welded up a tooth to attach to the 3 point on the tractor. Pile up some concrete blocks or other weights to help the tooth dig in (our dirt was HARD!). Might need multiple passes. Once the trench was dug I attached a hook to the bottom of the tooth and used it to pull the cable into the bottom of the trench.

    Worked pretty well.

  5. Morning George,

    Let me introduce you to Steve who has mastered No Knead Baking.
    His main page:

    Steve’s You Tube Page:

    Steve’s World’s Easiest Pizza Dough:

    Primarily I suggest you consider his Turbo Videos the link is at the top of the page on his Main Page, they are the quickest to go in the oven. Everything he demonstrates only takes a few minutes to assemble. Most of the time is in the proofing. You’ll find he is like you, fast efficient with excellent results.

    Best of Holidays to you and Elaine. And I truly wish her well with the hip surgery. I remember a good friend of mine had replacement surgery done and that was back around 2000 and she was back in Tia Chi class in very short order and doing kicks and everything everyone else was doing. So, I feel Elaine will do well!

    Happy New Year to you Both,

    Roger in Tucson

    • Roger, just a another quick thank you for your post.
      Your post confirms my opinion there is so much
      information not only from our host {G.U. & Family}
      but his thoughtful readers who wish to contribute
      to the site’s overall value. A Peoplenomics
      subscription should be on your to do list now!
      Best Wishes to All, Standfreeman


    • Lots to do there, but not the workouts they’re showing.

      Still, it’s a good incentive. Now back to concrete work!

  6. Does your local Lowes have a crawler-trencher for rent? I put in 300′ of water line and 175′ of conduit(s) with a rental walk-in-front-of trencher, and swore I would rent a crawler if I ever did another project which requires trenching. Keeping the walking trencher on a straight line took two and was back-breaking.
    I am thinking about trenching in some conduit and wire for a possible solar project. The conduit and the ground mount rack look like the most labor and time-consuming portion. There is no way I will put panels on my roof. I will need to put in 200′ of conduit, so manually digging it is not an option for my tired old back. I can hear Andy’s rebuttal coming.
    The project I have in mind is a 24VDC battery system for a small chest freezer, lighting, and some 12 VDC portable outlets for comm and entertainment devices, not to mention 12VDC operated portable battery charger(s). I have the 12/24 VDC autosense freezer in the garage already, running off a DC power supply. I would probably put in some additional 24 VDC light fixtures. The 12/24 VDC autosense LED bulbs are available on Amazon at not too outrageous a price. The device which I have found which looks like it will fulfill the need for 12VDC off a 24VDC battery system is this one, available from Ure buddies:

    I would like to see more about Ure homebrew solar ground mount solar rack. You can qualify it with structural disclaimers, and hide it in the Peoplenomics section.

    I just don’t see enough 48 VDC components available to justify a higher battery voltage. The inverters are just a temptation to plug in power hog loads and run the size and cost up 4x or higher. My priorities are powering a freezer, some lights, and portable 12VDC devices.

    • Reread the Peoplenomics articles on Solar: At 200 feet, build your power center at the panelsd otherwise at 24v the wire loss over 200 feet will eat you alive.
      Racks? Game to separate man from his money.
      T-Posts, rebar, welding coupons and some patience is all that’s needed.
      Unless you have inspectors around – which is why midnight solar installs….er….

      • My current (snicker} thought is to series 2 to 4 ea 48V open-circuit panels at a time and run multiple 100V – 200 VDC circuits to a suitable MPPT charger in the garage. That should keep the wire sizes and drops reasonable. I am also thinking that transitioning from store bought cables to THWN for the underground homerun looks advantageous, though it requires two j-boxes to pull off. You need at least one j-box for splicing in surge-protection, anyway. On previous adventures, I have had the wire in the cemented plastic conduit before I dropped it all in the trench.
        I’m am anxiously waiting to see the pictures of the rebar / t-post homebrew, unless you have a third-party source for the design idea you will share…

      • For those of us who’ve spent time at ag equipment auctions, affordable old oilfield pipe is available. I much prefer it to T-posts except for the most incidental applications. T-posts bend far too easily – even on a perimeter fence. Of course, T-posts are a lot cheaper and quicker to install. If you have a PhD (post-hole digger) mounted on a tractor, it will make quick work of holes(and errant body parts). It’s also useful for loosening clay soil wherever you might need to.

        One project that’s been on the back of the back burner is to get an old crawler trencher running. That will require a lot of work, including a different engine, total derusting/freeing up, and a new lashup drive train. For a shallow trench, an old one bottom plow or ripper on a tractor can do quick work. You could even add a cable shoe if it’s worth the effort.

        For solar racks, see if unistrut along with whatever’s in the scrap steel pile fits your needs.

      • Electric chain saw for a 25 ft trench is less work than changing the brush hog to subsoiler and back.
        But, hear you on the pipe. T Post is shitty to work with but like in politics, expedience has its place.

  7. Hi, George,

    I laughed out loud when I read your words,”See how many machines I can get doing my work for me at the same time!” My late husband was exactly like that. In one of our studios and in his man cave studio, he had milling machines and 3D printers all humming away as they made things for him while he worked on other projects. He was innovative, creative, and a true genius. Some years ago, he was awarded the Sidney Fernbach medal during an IEEE conference for parallel computing, getting over 9,000 computer prosessors all working on a vast simulation. Some of his papers can be read on the ResearchGate website. After he died, Sandia National Labs named their new super computer after him. He maintained a humble attitude and always believed that an education was a luxury; he earned a Bachelors’ degree, a Masters’ degree, and a PhD all at Georgia Tech.

    While I mourned his loss, which was so very devastating, I had honored him in life and in death. Now, after nearly two years of grieving, I have a wonderful man as a life partner with whom I share many interests and activities. I am truly blessed.

    • Life goes on regardless, but the odd unexpected reboot experiences are a bitch. Always clear air on the other side of turbulence though.

      (Or a mountain, but in which case, worry doesn’t replace a good terrain map…)

      Happy New Year to you both!

  8. I have one of the original EZ Reachers. Paid $20+ back in the day. Been outside in the weather for 20+ years. No problems although it could use a new set of cups.

  9. “We all live in a “mental pasture” which has soft self-imposed limits around it. Kind of like “mental barbed wire.” ”

    Something I’ve preached to folks for 40 years is that they “build walls within their brain.” ‘Thing is, even when I explain how the “limitation” from which someone is afflicted, doesn’t really exist, and it’s only their brain giving them an excuse for laziness or failure, they can’t make it past the wall.

    As someone who does not recognize the existence of the word “can’t,” or accept its meaning, this frustrates me beyond belief, especially when I see it in my children.

    “When I hear stories about how someone “Worked for 40-years, then retired to the couch and didn’t get up for five-years till he died…””

    My Dad was a machinist, not an actuary, but was also the loan officer for his CU for many years. It was he who explained to me that the average factory worker lived only 10 months past the day on which he retired. Dad was also formerly a pro-bowler, so when he retired from factory life, he got a job at a bowling alley, wrangling shoes & washing balls, but he also got to hang his shingle as the “house pro” and teach (for free) a generation of (mostly) disadvantaged children how to bowl properly — kept him alive for years past his expiration date…

    • One problem I’m wrestling with is that my optimistic “life expectancy” can limit me to perhaps 25 years to build and live my dream. That’s definitely not enough unless I limit the dream, and that’s a poor option. I’ve not yet figured out how to be honest with myself and plan for the next 80-200 years or so, at least. Adding to this problem is that society insists on age based segregation and attitudes. I’m not ready to be “old”, yet I keep getting told that I am! Even the DMV/MVD insists on that, along with jump schools and others.

      • Yeah, something I’ve noticed: My thought patterns (the voice in my head) are the same as they were when I was 25. My body has suffered the abuse of six lifetimes, and demonstrates my limitations, yet my brain hasn’t figured out worn-away body parts don’t function as they once did. I sometimes wonder if that 25yo voice is my soul (Does your soul “age” to maturity, then remain that “age” forever?)

        My intention is to always plan for “who gets what” before I ever create the “what.” That way, I can live like I’m gonna look back on 150, yet be prepared, should I die, tomorrow…

  10. “We all live in a ‘mental pasture’ which has soft self-imposed limits around it. Kind of like ‘mental barbed wire.’ Keeps us from constantly tearing down the fences and risking new adventures. Keeps most people “thinking like everyone else…”

    Every single moment, some one (or many, in fact) are crossing over into The Great Beyond. When they slide down and get to the Other Side, They have that Life Review instant when their entire life flashes before their eyes and they see everything with a clarity they never had before. And for many, it’s an “Oh Crap!” moment when they realize that they had an unlimited world of opportunity and magic around them and the only reason they didn’t taste it all was THEIR OWN (DARN) FAULT. They had the Life Winning Numbers Ticket in the palm of their hands and they never cashed it in.

    But, that experience also was part of The Grand Plan. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. We learn more from misery than we do from pleasure, much as we might wish this the other way around.

    Mental barbed wire has its place. Not letting your brains all fall out sort of thing. But mental barbed wire must be cut down at some point or it is a hellish prison. Must be free to roam the pastures of your choice.

  11. Something is wrong in Asian trading. I know yous are talking shrink stuff . Something with the USD . It’s about to crush everything including idiots

  12. I got thinking about the light crown…. I of course have always thought that everything is based on frequency harmonics…,searchweb201602_,searchweb201603_

    a couple of years ago now I bought my grandsons girl friend that was graduating from beauty school some lasers.. to remove unwanted hair.. and when she graduated beauty school she uses them in her salon.. I believe it works.. the ultrasonic vibrations.. break up the cells and the body disposes of it.. I know they get a chunk of change to do the treatments..

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