Saturday, December 31, 2011

Let the Countdown Begin, 5...4...3...2...One...

I Hope He Doesn't Age Too Soon!
I don't think I know anyone who will hate to see the year 2011 go.
Now that I live in rural Louisiana, I don't do much to ring in the new year, but when I lived in SoCal, my wife and I would visit the South Pasadena Rose Parade site where, each year, the city struggles to present it's entry on time. We would then spend the rest of the year, what's left of it, at a friend's home, the Villa Sabotella in South Pasadena, where wonderful Italian food and libations were enjoyed along with that crazy family's love of the good life. They were our "family"and our home away from home during the holidays. After a toast to bring in the new year, we would get a few hours of sleep and then walk the Rose Parade route with some other friends in the early morning hours as artists, musicians and float designers scramble to meet their personal deadlines before the parade starts.

Returning to our friend's home for a great breakfast complete with Ramos fizzes while watching the parade in the comfort and warmth of their hospitality, was always a treat. Because not many were as fanatical as I was about the bowl games, we seldom spent the afternoon together there, which was just as well, since all of us by game time, were pretty much spent.

It was always a great event to say goodbye to the old year and ring in the new with all our South Pass friends!

In the last few years, I have taken to quiet evenings with a glass of champagne and my Daily Reminder datebook where I sit and reflect on the old year complete with my disappointments and my successes. I like to focus on and write down all of the accomplishments of the past year even the silly ones like repairing the toilet or oiling the door hinges. Anything that makes me feel positive about leaving the old year behind, I write down onto the last few pages of the datebook.

Then, I say goodbye!

This holiday season I've been so incognito fighting a cold... for the last week. Disgusted with myself, I went in for a diagnosis yesterday, and found out that I've got the flu... Duh! Looks like orange juice, the Christmas tree, and football to ring in the New Year.

Maybe, that's not so bad... ha! Geaux Saints, Geaux Tigers!

And, Happy New Years, y'all!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Made In The USA...

Buzzed Off... This is the pic of the actual toothless blade!

What an idiot!

I haven't really used my circular saw in quite some time, so I don't remember when I did use it, how it performed. All I know is that the saw was smoking more and more with each cut. I could sympathize with a saw struggling to cut a large three by six piece of wood, but it seemed the more I used it, the worst the saw performed.

I've been a Milwaukee Tool fan ever since I can remember. The jigsaw is about twelve years old and was bought to replace my grandfather's all-metal Craftsman, which still works quite well, but is a bit rough and rather heavy when compared to the newer models. Heck, that Craftsman has to be over sixty years old.

I also own a Milwaukee 3/8 inch drill that I purchased to replace a Rockwell drill which Consumer Reports recommended as the best tool for the money, oh, way back in the late seventies. Since replacing it with the Milwaukee, the new drill has been everywhere, doing all sorts of duties and surviving all sorts of misuse, intentional and unintentional.

I've dropped it more than once off my roof unto the pavement. It's got more nicks and cuts and dents than Mean Joe Greene's helmet. I love that tool and I love Milwaukee Tool Company for making such great products... and to my knowledge are still made in the USA.

That's why it bothered me to see this circ-saw, not performing up to snuff. I was changing my garage into a artist's studio and to do so was incorporating the saw to cut framing 2x4's and sheathing for the new wall that was replacing the original garage door. But with each passing use, the animal would smoke and kick back worse than before. I have a penchant for using tools not designed to perform the task I demand of them, but it got to the point that the kick back was getting so violent, that I feared I'd have to go out and buy a new saw, which presented another problem I had no time for... researching another tool to purchase.

I could not believe Milwaukee would "do me like 'dat"! Now, what do I do?

I did what most do-it-yourselfers do. Find an easy solution. I took off the blade to find a replacement. It was the next best thing short of disassembling the entire tool, piece by piece. The blade seemed to be the biggest part to replace and probably the easiest. So, I looked in the tool case that houses the saw to search for a newer, or even older blade that might cut better and there was none to be found.

Begrudgingly, mumbling obscenities all the way, I took the saw and the unattached blade with me to the local hardware store about six miles into town. I only brought in the blade and plopped it on the counter. Steve, the store owner, picked up the blade, focused his bi-focals carefully on the part, combing every tooth, back and front, inside and out all along in a circular route. He then looked up, rather glumly, above his glasses, which were perched at the tip of his nose, and sighed before giving me the verdict.

"Please tell me, Steve, that there's something wrong with this blade because I don't want to have to research and buy another circular saw... ever!"

I, emphasized the word,"ever", insinuating that if it wasn't the blade, it must be the saw, and I didn't want to lose my faith in the great American Milwaukee Tool Company.

Steve put the blade back down and calmly, but sternly said, "There's nothing wrong with this blade if you got some big slabs of butter or cheese you want to cut!"

"Otherwise, this is no good to no one," he said.

Okay, so I'm an idiot. I bought a new blade for twice what I'd pay for at the home centers, but it was worth every inflated dime when I loaded that puppy onto the saw and began cutting two by fours like it was cutting into butter.

And, best of all, my faith in America was again restored, this time, by the great Milwaukee Tool Company... God Bless Made in the USA!

Copyright 2011-2012/Ben Bensen III

Friday, December 16, 2011

"Don't Touch That Dial... It's Pre-Programmed!"

This is not an endorsement, ha!
For the last couple of months or so, I've been renovating the garage, turning it into my art studio. Without going through all the horrible details of demolishing perfectly good walls to add fiberglass insulation, I have been having good and bad visions of how this project will look when finished. In the process of renovation, many large materials have to be incorporated and large materials like four by eight sheets of anything is impossible to jam into the trunk of a four door sedan.

 Nor can it be tied to the roof of a four door sedan. I know. I've tried. On many cars!

I thought about asking some friends at the local coffee shop if they could help me out. In Folsom, everybody's second car is a sedan. Their first vehicle is a big, honking four by truck with a trailer hitch, a tool box and some mud boots turned upside down between the tool box and the cab. I thought about asking them for assistance, but the return favor might be more than I bargained for, like gutting a deer, or scaling an ice chest full of speckled trout! Besides, I really don't have any close friends here in Folsom... acquaintances, yes, close friends willing to haul sheets of plywood, insulation, sheet rock and such... nah!

Although it says that you can rent this wonderful van for only $19.00, it actually cost $25.00 excluding gasoline refills. I know. I've driven this exact vehicle thirty-five miles to and from Folsom, LA hauling stuff I can't take in my car five times already. I will probably have to use it once or twice more before this project is complete.

But the really cool thing is that using the van as much as I have, I have all the buttons on the radio pre-programmed for the channels that I love. Not that I really love radio. To me, it is a vast wasteland, but when you are out and about doing things that are not the norm, it is always good to have something every sports talk radio channel available, NPR, The Think Tank, and the local college rock stations. Whenever there's a commercial on air, I just hit the old button and "BINGO'.

The first time I used the van, I programmed the buttons so I wouldn't have to be preached to, or screamed at, forced to cry in my beer or sold one political bag of nonsense or another, but I never expected the channels to stay the way I set them up.

Either this poor van is seldom used or someone out there has the same "musical tastes" I have. What a coincidence.