Vulcan At The Forge

Gods

My friend BrainRants is paving his back yard with beer cans.

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Actually, he’s only paving a 20 foot diameter fire pit – less the 5 foot diameter central concrete burn area, and he’s using more than just beer cans – but it makes a great story.

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I don’t want to use the word ‘unusual,’ because many may read it and think strange, or weird.  It’s not strange or weird (or maybe that’s just me), it’s just uncommon.  He melts aluminum down in a homemade furnace, and casts 6 inch hexagons.  His input may include discarded patio tables, or salvaged broken storm doors.  Cans often include soft-drinks, but beer cans comprise the bulk of the base stock.  14 cases of mixed cans produce 10 of these tiles.

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He built his own little furnace, in a 5-gallon metal pail, using special, high-heat concrete and chicken wire for support.  He also poured a concrete lid with a breather hole and handles.  A purchased propane burner is inserted through a hole in the side to provide the heat, and crucibles, purchased online, contain the molten aluminum.

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He made his own wooden hex replica, and uses it to form wet-sand moulds, into which he pours the hot metal.  This project is nearly complete.  He had 820 hexes when I arrived, including a few bronze ones, and I helped him by staying safely out of his way, drinking beer, while he poured his self-imposed weekly quota of another 20, over two days.

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Here is Vulcan, beginning to pour 5 tiles.

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He’s getting closer, and that stuff is HOT!  Stand well back.  All of this was done in a garage, on a hot, muggy DC August day.  I can think of no better excuse for a couple of cold beers….and another to celebrate a safe, successful conclusion.

Dos Equis

 

Coins Of The Realms

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My coin collection started innocently and modestly enough, with a few older Canadian coins. Then, as described in my ‘Penny, lira, etc.’ post, I was tricked into collecting foreign coins. Slowly but steadily, over the (many) years, I’ve added coins to both groups, till now I don’t count my coins, so much as weigh them occasionally.

I have almost 600 foreign coins, from over 100 countries around the world, some of which no longer exist, as well as numerous Canadian and American coins. The five binders shown above include Canadian and American coins, as well as bills, and total just over 47 pounds.  I store them on a closet shelf, next to the wall, directly over the support bracket, so as not to collapse it.

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Clamshell 2 x 2s come in various sizes, for various coins. They are folded over a coin and stapled shut on three sides, then the unit is inserted in a plastic sheet with 20 pockets.  Soon after I got started, I received some helpful tips from a couple of old collectors/dealers.

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I buy mounting sheets with reinforced holes, because the weight of 20 coins can tear unprotected sheets. If you’re collecting sequentially dated coins, and one always follows the next, they are inserted into the sheets and forever remain there.

If I get another Spanish coin, I might need to now give Portuguese coins their own page for enough room. My coins can move around.  One dealer advised me to trim the bottom corners of the 2 X 2s at 45°, so that they would slide into the tight pockets easier.  Clipped bottoms and unclipped tops seem ‘unfinished’ to me, so I trim all 4 corners, creating little square ‘malls’ among the coins on the sheet.

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Staples holding the 2 X 2s closed, protrude in small bulges at the back, causing an already bulky assembly to take up even more room. I have a special pair of pliers, with which I crimp them flat, ensuring smoother insertion and retraction, and less volume.

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The arrangement of my foreign coins in my catalogs resembles a giant M on a world map.  They start at the bottom of South America, work their way up past Panama and the Caribbean, and throw a quick wave at the USA and Canada with a couple of odd/special coins.

They cross the Atlantic, through England, Ireland, Scotland and the Channel Islands, and work their way across Europe. They then dodge the rocket attacks in the Middle East and flow down the body of Africa.  Returning, they trudge eastward through Russia and China, and down through South-East Asia, to Australia and New Zealand.

My foreign coins have taught me much about geography and history. Separate regions are arbitrarily jammed together to form the likes of Czechoslovakia.  Countries are split apart, like Germany, or India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.  World economy, and that of individual countries, changes coins from gold and silver, to brass, steel, nickel and copper, all the way down to aluminum.

My little digital camera will not take good photos of individual coins, but I have some bright, flamboyant foreign bills/notes I hope to show you later. To some of you, these are not ‘foreign’, but merely coins of your realm.

April Challenge – B

April Challenge

This blog-post is brought to you by the number 3.1415926, and the letter B.

Letter B

Basement; a story of a building, partly or wholly underground.

***

When they were first married, they were madly in love, always together. Couldn’t keep their hands off each other, joined at the hip – frequently. Went everywhere together.

He had to go to work to support his wife, and soon, their children. She became a housekeeper, remaining at home, to cook and clean, and raise the kids.  Still, they loved each other, and often expressed it – a quick kiss or a pat on the bum.

His career progressed. He worked longer hours and had to take courses.  When she wasn’t tied up with the kids, she got to coffee-klatch with other neighborhood wives, but they always made time for each other.

While they still liked each other greatly, and showed it, they found that they had different interests. He took up golf; she joined a bowling league.  He read only best-sellers and wondered what she got from the Historical Romance novels she read.  Still, there were the pecks on the cheek, and the rubbing of a forearm.

His job required him to travel occasionally. When he was out of town, she took the opportunity to visit a sister he considered a loud-mouthed trouble-maker.  When he returned home, they had little of interest to discuss with each other.

She moved into one of the children’s abandoned bedrooms, because ‘he snored.’ He might not snore if she didn’t stay awake all night, reading.

With the kids married, or off at college, organized evening meals became infrequent. One or the other might make food for them both, but it was seldom eaten together at the table.  She lounged in her bed and watched Downton Abbey.  He rocked back in the rec-room recliner and watched baseball or football.

One day he realized that they hadn’t spoken a word to each other in days – and he didn’t worry about it. They were down to having corridor sex.  If they met in the hallway, she would hiss, “Fuck you!”  He would reply, “Screw you, Bitch.”  Life had become an armed truce.

He realized that living together – separately, was better than splitting up. His benefits package covered her.  They only had one cable TV bill, one phone bill, one Internet provider.  The mortgage was retired, so neither would have to rent an apartment.

One day though, she gravely approached him, and told him that she wanted her space – without him in it. Somewhat sadly, he signed the divorce papers, and made arrangements to sell off the house and contents.  That was how he had come to be living in this basement, bachelor apartment.

 

Let’s End It All

There I was, sitting at the bar, staring at my drink, when a really big, trouble-making biker steps up next to me, grabs my drink, and gulps it down in one swig.


“Well, whatcha gonna do about it? ” he says menacingly, as I burst into tears.  “Come on, man,” the biker says, “I didn’t think you’d cry. I can’t stand to see a man crying. “


“This is the worst day of my life,” I said. “I’m a complete failure. I was late to a meeting and my boss fired me. When I went to the parking lot, I found my car had been stolen and I don’t have any insurance. I left my wallet in the cab I took home. I found my wife in bed with the gardener, and then my dog bit me, so I came to this bar to work up the courage to put an end to it all. I buy a drink, drop the capsule in it, and was sitting here watching the poison dissolve when you show up and drink the whole thing!!

But enough about me, how’s your day going? ”

****

The 36 Rules of Life

 

1. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.

2. Don’t worry about what people think, they don’t do it very often.

3. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than standing in a garage makes you a car.

4. Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

5. If you must choose between two evils, pick the one you’ve never tried before.

6. My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance.

7. Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.

8. A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person.

9. For every action, there is an equal and opposite government program.

10. If you look like your passport picture, you probably need the trip.

11. Bills travel through the mail at twice the speed of cheques.

12. A conscience is what hurts when all of your other parts feel so good.

13. Eat well, stay fit, die anyway.

14. Men are from earth. Women are from earth. Deal with it.

15. No man has ever been shot while doing the dishes.

16. A balanced diet is a muffin in each hand.

17. Middle age is when broadness of the mind and narrowness of the waist change places.

18. Opportunities always look bigger going than coming.

19. Junk is something you’ve kept for years and throw away three weeks before you need it.

20. There is always one more imbecile than you counted on.

21. Experience is a wonderful thing. It enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.

22. By the time you can make ends meet, they move the ends.

23. Thou shalt not weigh more than thy refrigerator.

24. Someone who thinks logically provides nice contrast to the real world.

25. It ain’t the jeans that make your butt look fat.

26. If you had to identify in one word the reason why the human race has not achieved its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings’.

27. There is a very fine line between ‘hobby’ and ‘mental illness.’

28. People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.

29. You should not confuse your career with your life.

30. Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.

31. Never lick a steak knife.

32. The most destructive force in the universe is gossip.

33. You will never find anybody who can give you a clear and compelling reason why we observe daylight saving time.

34. You should never say anything to a woman that even remotely suggests that you think she’s pregnant unless you can see an actual baby emerging from her at that moment.

35. The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that deep down inside we ALL believe we are good drivers.

36. Your friends love you anyway.

 

 

Just Desserts, No Entrees

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The universe is not fair, but it works out in my favor, so I’m happy about it.  I’ve been a bad, bad, bad, bad boy, and I got a reward.  I’ve been lurking in bloggers’ back yards.  I’ve been peeking in website windows.  The RockStar made Sparklebumps take down the 82 inch closed-circuit flat-screen she had mounted outside.  The Hobbler, who’s NotHobblingNow, threw an all-girls party last week.  They kept the drapes tightly closed, but the window was open a bit.  You should have heard what those women had to say.

I went over to TheDatingBitch’s place to watch her circus act.  Her Mom and Stepdad got knocked off their motorcycle by a semi, and were in hospital.  Within the next week, her followers had lobbed four blog awards at her, and she was juggling all of this like a trouper.  As I was skulking my way back to my den, I found, at the entrance, one of her awards.  I tried to return it to her, but she insisted that I keep it, so I took the One Lovely Blog award in, and hung it from a root sticking out of the cave wall.

She was so nice and understanding, I’ve vowed to give up my evil ways, and only use the Power of the Award for good.  I humbly thank her for this honor, and the fact that she can afford to have someone make me disappear so smoothly that even my mother wouldn’t question it, plays no part in my sudden good manners.

I think (occasionally) that I’m supposed to tell you seven things about myself.  That’s difficult.  I’m so boring that even I haven’t paid any attention.  This will be a surprise to even me.

What is a favorite childhood memory?  All of them!  The unfearing freedom to roam the reaches of my small town, from dawn until dusk.  Climbing trees, building forts, tanning and swimming at the beach.  I was not impressed when adulthood arrived, accompanied by jobs, taxes, bills and social responsibility.

What is a real fear I have?  Nothing I would describe as a fear.  I’ve handled snakes.  They’re dry.  I don’t want to handle earthworms because they’re damp and slimy.  I used to swim in rivers and out into Lake Huron.  It’s just as well that what little swimming I do now is in clear, shallow pools.  Unlike SteadilySkippingStones, I have no worry about sharks….but there is a bit of that unreasonable concern about what is underneath me.

How would I describe myself?  If you’ve read my previous post about management training, the answer is Honest.  If not then, maybe methodical…. or steadfast.

What is my style?  Guys have style?  Comfortably casual!  I smiled and waved to Queen Elizabeth, wearing blue jeans and a tee shirt.  Motorcycle boots, black Levis and a polo shirt are a step up from that.  Are we talking about lifestyle?  More comfortably casual, with some tactfully straightforward thrown in for good measure, although I’ve been known to shove a shopping cart up the butt of the inconsiderate asshole who *forgets* it.  Then it’s more straightforward, and less tactful.

What countries have I lived in?  With my financial situation, it’s all I can do to Live, in Canada.  I visited Quebec for about an hour one afternoon and was not impressed with it, and drove back.  Once the kids were grown, I had chances to visit the eastern section of the USA.  I drove to Florida three times with my brother, and the wife and I have been as far as Charleston, SC, three times.  Not exactly a world traveller, but the trips have been enjoyable and educational.

What is my favorite breakfast food?  Unlike my parents and brother, I’ve never been a morning person.  The earlier I have to get up, the longer I have to wait before feeding.  The first couple of days after we were married, the wife dutifully got up and made me bacon and eggs, as she had for her brother.  I dutifully ate them and then threw them up before leaving for work.  If the first meal of the day is *breakfast*, occasionally, after I fall out of bed around noon, I’ve been known to have spoon-size shredded wheat.  Milk and a bit of sugar, but not those frosted ones.

What are some of my hobbies?  Definitely reading!  I’m starting to do more of that on-line but still manage to complete about a book a week.  I don’t *collect* books, but I’ve never let go of a sci-fi book once I’ve owned it.  I have fifty-five years worth, about a thousand.  I have a motley assortment of various types of knives, most of which have been given to me.  I have one handmade knife, like an overgrown scalpel, on the hippo-tooth ivory handle of which, I had two different gryphons scrimshawed.

I’m supposed to inflict….afflict….pass this award on to a bunch of other deserving bloggers but, like the tesseract in the Thor movie, that might be something I could get into, but not out of.  I mentioned SkippingStones and NotHobbling, above, and will contact them.  Also, Savor’s back, yet again, this time as SavortheDivorce.  If When you visit, watch out for her left hook, she holds the wine in her right.  She could use some support and sympathetic company.

New bloggers pop up, and old reliable ones sometimes just quietly disappear.  I don’t know what might cause me to stop blogging but, while I’m here, I’ve met a Bunch of the nicest people I’ll never meet.