Product Review

Democracy – 2018 –

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California is burning.  Mid-term elections seem largely forgotten.  A few candidates hang by a chad, screaming foul.  Charges fly.  Voter suppression.  Illegally handled ballots.  Racism!  Existing laws broken and court orders ignored.  Is this politics, mommy?

Politics concern the whole world around us, from what we teach in schools;  to where we send our military;  to whether we fix our roads;  to how we handle crime, poverty, addiction, mental health, and the homeless;  to whether pink slime can be included in our burgers;  to a hospital’s obligations to the uninsured.  Laws.  Products of politics.  We live by them.  Some work, some don’t.  Some bad ones need to be changed, and some good ones need to be protected.  Democracy turns on participation.  Around the world, people continue to fight for the right, as did our forbears.

So we fight to make it work.  In some areas, with clear majorities, it works quickly and efficiently.  Where razor-thin margins appear, vote counting and recounting slows.  Ballots are “found”.  Tabulation numbers shift daily.  Judicial Circuit Courts issues judgements, duly ignored.  The process slows to a crawl.

It’s a really fine mess we’ve got ourselves into, when officials cannot publicly provide voter data as mandated by law.  Hey, don’t rush them.  Provisional, mail-in, and early voting ballots are mere suggestions of citizen intent.  In the right hands, they can swing a national election!

Clearly, the honey tastes better on the other side of the fence.  Call me when it is all over.  🙂

Quaker Oats

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Over this Veterans Day weekend, swamped with keeping the boat moving forward, quill never made it to parchment.  Several half articles popped their heads above the hedge but that blasted rabbit got away every time.  Notably, Quaker Oats Instant Oatmeal was on sale;  a winter favorite, our review was imagined as steamy and satisfying … until the words MADE IN CANADA came into focus.  There’s always Heinz Catsup, but that would be too easy …. Maybe next week, the Apex Tool article will finally be finished.  And we will get the Quaker Oats angle;  our top muncher is on it.

Quaker Oats was founded in 1901 by the merger of four oat mills: The Quaker Mill Company of Ravenna, Ohio (founded 1877), which held the trademark on the Quaker name and was acquired in 1901 by Henry Parsons Crowell, who also bought the bankrupt Quaker Oat Mill Company, also in Ravenna.  

The company’s roots are in Akron, Ohio. Ferdinand Schumacher, a pioneer miller born in Hanover, Germany, in 1822, used medieval period milling techniques to manufacture oatmeal on a mass scale.  

Eclectic Products – Eugene, Oregon

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Decades ago this penniless vagabond was huffing it across country.  One last adventure awaited just over yonder ridge.  His footfalls across the asphalt were joined by a third sound, the scrape / flwapp cadence of a detached boot sole.  He’d been advised to Goop-It, but the unfamiliar brought fear and confusion.  Goop?

In time a weekend adventurer joined the fire ring.  This camper had a pouch with everything one needs on the road.  We could suture the sole, duct tape it, or Goop it.  The Circle decided.  Goop it was.  The boot was carefully packed with flat stones.  Goop was squirted liberally between the sole and the insole and the affected area clamped together with more rock.  Some Goop squeezed out the edges like jelly from a donut but it was left as-is.

In the morning, our Weekend MacGyver was gone.  My boot, sitting by the smoldering fire ring, was unclamped, emptied of stone and scorpion, examined, yanked, poked, fitted, and pronounced good for another 10,000 miles.

Such bipedal adventures are now left to others but the experience stuck.  Goop is a quality adhesive.  No doubt the toluene and solvent naphtha play a part;  avoid confined spaces.

When a local college banquet bar triple bowl sink drip began to dampen spirits and socks, close examination revealed a mess of replacement issues.  The largest?  Budget and urgency. The sink was used only as a beer cooler,  melting ice the only use of its drain.  Instead of a Full Monty, stripping it down to bare metal and a full repipe with new components, we gave it the ‘ol college try à la MacGyver.

Buff the metal with ScotchBrite, a judicious application of Plumber’s Goop, and wait 24 hours.  Amazing results!  All three sinks filled to the brim with water, all unplugged simultaneously, and the strainers and drains lose nary a drop.  It looks like this assembly will withstand another decade of light use.

Now, it ain’t pretty. But replacing 1″ brass strainers on a copper drain, all the parts seized together, very tight access, the sink itself destined for the rubbish heap or recycler?  Replacement is definitely not cost-effective in this situation.  There is a time and place for “temporary repairs”.   Through no fault of our own we often see ‘temporary repairs’ last over a decade. 🙂


  

Bubba • Bootjack California

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It never occurred to me that Bubba might have a Christian name or a last name.  Joseph Lang  And surely he’d live forever, collecting bits and pieces of people’s lives, arranging them in his store for resale.  The social hub of Bootjack California, Bubba’s establishment anchoring one end of Main Street.

joe bubba lang.jpegWhere else could one find a twelve-foot arch-back velour couch in infant yellow, deep enough to sleep comfortably without crowded elbows?  For $20?  Clark Gable probably napped on it, and here the couch ended, for a worn Jackson.

Shelving, kitchen ware, tools of a sort, clothes.  Bubba had everything you’d need to set up house.  Apartment clean outs, estate sales, competitor’s overstock, where ever he got it always seemed a mystery as Bubba talked into his beard.  But he knew how to stand firm on his price.

Bubba left this world in May 2018, the victim of a 2:00 AM hit-and-run. Merced California police have released little information about the accident.

D’Addario Violin Strings

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The estate sale find looked somewhat like a violin.  Except it was a jumble of dusty components which fell further apart when its chin rest was removed.  Quick work for our handy Kershaw pocket knife.  A bit of practiced slip-n-snap, the last remaining parts released their failed hide glue after a century together.

Inked with fountain pen upon the inside top, E. Guthwaite of Leeds (England) left his repair mark in 1886.  The hive buzzed that I had a French 1850-1870 Mirecourt.  Gut strings plus patterns of grime from playing along with dust from laying tell us this violin may not have been functional since about 1920.

Back apart, repairs begin anew.  Its old glue is tacky, with a sharp, astringent smell.  It is picked and scraped out of a groove along the back’s perimeter.  The ribs are reattached with fresh Behlen Hide Glue.  The neck heel looks different than usual, sporting a culvertail joint at the heel.  Odd, even uncommon?  We carve an end block to receive the dovetail and are rewarded with extra tensile strength.  The top is an issue, but we’re making a player, not a museum piece.  Joined, cleated, glued, we’re almost done.  Fingerboard dressed, polished, reattached, nut corrected, saddle soaped, bridge finalized, and we find used but serviceable D’Addario Kaplan strings on our windowsill for testing.

Superb!  At a gig, Steve cannot put her down for a full four hours, grinning like a kid as the tone opens up.  Chance favors the fortunate and lucky, as its set-up receives raves – although he says it feels more German and Italian than French.  But there was so much immigration and resettling after Napoléon Bonaparte.

Now for the final bit of finish.  A wipe of varnish here, pegs to trim and polish, a composite tailpiece for student trial.  Off with our used tester strings.  We’re going with adult fare, a D’Addario Helicore H310 offering.  Without knowing what the final owner will want, we choose a dependable string far higher in quality than most students will get.  Two or three times more expensive than economy strings, maybe half the cost or a little more than strings a professional might favor.  We’ve taken the high road of serious string choice.  

Fit as a fiddle.  Her voice is back after a century of slumber.  D’Addario is doing the talking.

All D’Addario strings are designed, engineered and manufactured in the USA to the most stringent quality controls in the industry.D’Addario 

Daylight Savings Time

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Sunrise has galloped to 6:08AM while sunset drops to a milestone, 8:00pm straight.  Squeezed from both directions, the “Fall Back” date of November 4th will find my home well stocked with teas, crackers, and fine hardback novels.  Peaceful nighttime activities, reading early in bed, will come an hour sooner, thanks to Benny F.

While Benjamin floated the idea via a witty “letter” to the Journal of Paris in 1784, it had been around far far longer.  My ancestors were whipped into the fields as the first mistle thrush and woodlark began their songs (about 4am, barely time for a cup of ale and a crust).  Even the Egyptians knew the best time for dragging 30 ton stone blocks were the hours before the sun was a cubit above the Bolbitinic.

We’re having a cool morning.  Seasonal sunlight changes have increased my appetite, as Mo’Nature suggests I bank carbs and fats.  I shall be mindful over the next four months not to take her message too closely to heart *munch munch burp*

Why do the changes not follow autumnal & vernal equinoctes?  The Naval Observatory sets the dates.  Something to do with a vigorous party schedule?  The Veep’, our “man of letters” and regular contributor to ATB, will know.  His residence is on the Navel Observatory grounds, and he knows everybody.  Stay tuned for an update!

Bowers Tool Company

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Waking up to a beautiful 71˚ but 93% humidity, the chances of writing a coherent review today are slim.  In a flash it will be both 93˚F and 93% humidity.  Welcome to The Philadelphia Summer.

All is not lost.  Little thought is required.  The perfect article for AmericanToolbox literally fell into our drafts folder.  In my search for a light machinist hammer, I discovered the Carrollton Texas company of Nelson Bowers.  Mr Bowers has a great philosophy.  Save Time and Money: Buy it Once, Buy it Right.  Everything he sells is quality.  We have built partnerships with 21+ domestic manufactures bringing together a wide array of tools from Automotive to Gunsmithing, HVAC, Aviation and more.  Bowers Tool

Carrollton Texas, the heartland.  Not too far from some of my favorite camping spots.  Home of the famous graphic artist Kadin Betts, God rest his soul.  We’ve added a stop on our next road trip.  Coming soon, on American Toolbox.

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