Category Archives: Technology

Garage Town

Today’s post comes from Jacque.

Recently we spent the weekend with friends who are now living in Eveleth, MN.  They moved there 18 months ago when they inherited Jane’s family home from her brother who inherited it from their parents.    Lou saw it when he helped them move there last Spring. This was the first time I viewed it.

When I saw it I realized that Jane inherited a garage with a house, not a house with the garage.

A big hobby in Eveleth, and apparently much of N. Minnesota is restoring vintage cars.  Her brother was into this In A Big Way.  He built a 3 car garage, one stall holding a lift and sporting a heated floor.  Then he built a second 2 car garage perpendicular to the 3 car garage.  There are tools, immaculately kept and carefully arranged throughout the entire facility. No medical operating room could rival for neatness and sanitation.  It was impressive.

We attended a vintage car show near by that testified to the popularity of this particular hobby in Northern Minnesota.   After seeing the car show,  I understood the number of elaborate garages scattered throughout the town. Many people there have this hobby.   The houses in town are small, depression-era homes.  The accompanying garages are large, elaborate, and decked out with the most modern equipment, much like the garages our friends now own.  To be fair, Jane had told me about the hobby and the garages, but really, this was outside of my reality.  I just did not understand until I saw it in person.

 

“What a hobby,” I thought.  “How peculiar.”

But then, what about my hobbies and my peculiar equipment?  After all, I mix clay in a food processor, then run it through a pasta machine, finally baking the end product in a toaster oven.  Maybe the owner of the garages would not find my use of kitchen equipment at all ordinary.

Which leads to the question of the day.

Is there anything odd about your hobby(s)?

 

The Trouble with Ratchets

Today’s post comes from Chris, Reneeinnd’s husband.

Due to an anomaly at birth, I am partially ambidextrous.  I learn to do simple tasks with my left hand and complex tasks with my right.  I allow other people to demonstrate their mechanical prowess while I stand aside to lend assistance.  Attempts to tackle jobs with moving parts commonly end in frustration, absurdity, or disaster.

In July, Renee and  I traveled to see our son and his wife in Brookings, South Dakota so Renee could do a therapy presentation and we could help the kids move into a new apartment.  The new place was quite a step up: it had three bedrooms on two levels, with two and a half bathrooms!  Son and his wife had bought new furniture and had it delivered to the new apartment.  They had to leave several pieces of furniture, including a huge, dilapidated sectional sofa, in the old apartment so it could be removed and hauled to the landfill with my pickup.

We arrived on Friday evening, delighted to see the new apartment. Renee and Son would be at the presentation the next day.  After a pleasant meal, the four of us went to the Lowe’s to get what would be needed for the big move– a big tarp and a set of ratchets with straps.

Son and I went over to the old place and proceeded to load the bulky pieces of the sofa into my pickup and cover them with the tarp.  The next step was to secure the load with the straps and ratchets.

Son and I usually work well together, but he has dexterity problems of his own.  Secretly, I didn’t have a clue–I’d let him take the lead.  Neither of us knew how to spool the straps through the ratchet.  Son used the expedient of the young–he looked up the procedure on YouTube.  By this time, it was getting dark and he  had to use his phone as a flashlight.  He figured out what to do, and we threw the hooked end of the strap over the top of the load.  At that point we inadvertently violated the cardinal rule of ratcheting–always keep the strap straight!  If you don’t, the strap will  twist and get stuck in the spool while you’re tightening it with the ratchet.

Of course the strap got tangled, and the strength of two big men was not enough to unwind it.  Fortuitously, Son’s upstairs neighbor, a veteran  of multiple collegiate moves, arrived.  He was able to pull out the strap so it could be spooled back in to the ratchet.  We tried again, secured the load, and drove the truck to the new apartment, tired but satisfied with a job well done.

On Saturday, Daughter in Law  and I got to do the fun part–driving the pickup to the landfill so we could dispose of the sofa.  We gleefully flung the cruddy pieces onto a smelly pile of rubbish.  We were very careful to wind the straps back into ratchets without twisting them.  I had not repeated the same mistake and was proud of my newfound competence.  I could now use a ratchet on my own–without help!

We showed Son the neatly spooled ratchets when he got home, only to find that the straps were horribly stuck! You’re not supposed to rewind the strap through the back of the ratchet!  Son pulled with all  his might and was able to get one of the spools unstuck.  He had to resort to cutting the other one.  A mysterious third strap was involved.  Although  Son remained calm and patient, he was  clearly disgusted by the situation.  He advised me to ask one of “my mechanically inclined” friends for assistance in the future.

The straps and ratchets are stored in a compartment of my truck.  I am too embarrassed to show my incompetence by asking a casual friend or neighbor for help.  I vowed never to use an  unspooled ratchet and strap again– if I can avoid it.

Have you ever had a guilty secret?  What did you do to conceal your shame?

 

Long Lost Relations

I received an unexpected request for family tree information last week from a woman in Canada.  According to Ancestry. com, she and I are DNA matches and are likely 5th to 8th cousins. Her great grandmother and my Great Grandfather Lunzmann were siblings. I never knew he had siblings, but there he was on her tree, the youngest of about six children. I had never really ever looked for his siblings, and searched  instead for earlier ancestors.

I am very happy that my long lost relative contacted me, since I know very little about the Lunzmann family.  I know about my great grandfather’s life after 1900, but not in the 30 years before that and not his family life in the small village he came from in Mecklenburg , Germany.

This is one time that I welcome the intrusion of new technology in my life . I don’t always feel that way about it.

What about the latest technology do you find charming? What do you find alarming?

 

 

Binge-Watcher

I’m not sure when I first realized there was a phrase “binge-watching”, and knowing me the phrase was probably around well before I came across it. I didn’t have Netflix at the time so never thought binge-watching applied to me. Then I started to think about it.

When I was in high-school, I inherited the small black and white family tv when my parents upgraded their set. Back then there was no cable, no Netflix – just channels 2,4,5,9 and 11, with only a couple of the stations broadcasting around the clock. During my junior year, the Bijou Theatre (beginning at 1 a.m.) showed all the Johnny Weismueller Tarzan movies in order, three a night for a week or so.  Every night that week, I set my alarm for 1 a.m. and watched them all.

Several years ago, after resisting Downton Abbey for a while, Steve (in Happy Valley) lent me Season 1 on DVD. Since other folks were waiting to borrow it as well, I watched the whole season over a weekend.  I have followed this by watching every succeeding season over a weekend, once the DVD comes to the library.

And if Hallmark Channel is showing Columbo or Perry Mason or Matlock back to back to back and I’m around, I’ll turn it on. So I suppose the seed was always there.

But I have to say that Netflix has brought a whole new meaning to the phrase binge-watch.  I have noticed that I’m pretty obsessive about watching shows in order, and only one series at a time until I’m done, then on to the next. Murdoch Mysteries, The Crown, Doc Martin, Raiders of the Lost Art, Midsomer Murders (why do all those folks go wandering around in the middle of the night in the dark?) and, of course, every series about castles, country homes and British villages. I don’t think I don’t actually watch any more tv  than I used to, but now I spend a lot less time looking through the tv guide to see what’s palatable!

What will you admit to binge-watching?

 

Keep Your Foot Paste off My Keyboard

Today’s post comes from Clyde.

Trying to help my fingers type better, I ordered a new keyboard from Amazon, one that has raised keys that clack like a typewriter. I may not have it long; Sandy has keyboard lust.

It came with two things that did not arouse my confidence in the product. The first was the little white plastic object that is the header picture for this post. My son figured out what it is. I will leave it to you to guess. The second was the warranty card, which is in this photograph.

Been a while since I have received mangled translation like this. How delightful.  I await my three bags of after-sales service.

What have you lost in translation: linguistic, cultural, generational, or political?