The Puppygate Affair

gates beforeI’ve been working at the Humane Society of Jefferson County for just over 3 months.  In the puppy room we have 8 inside/outside runs.  There are chain link gates at either end and a sliding door in the wall that separates the inside from the outside.  Outside the gates are  7 feet or so tall, inside, two runs have tall walls and gates (for jumpers) the rest have 3 foot high walls and gates.  Two of these short runs had really sad gates on the inside.  The bottom rails rusted completely away and fell off, leaving an oddly shaped door that was augmented by zip-tieing cat crate doors to the chain link to fill the growing gap between door and post.  I award points to the other staffers for ingenuity, but it’s time to do something more permanent about this.

These were difficult to open and only going to degrade further.  They were ugly too.    So I took it upon myself to fix them.

I ordered the hardware from an on-line supplier I’ve dealt with before.  Their prices are 1/2 to 1/3 the price at Lowe’s or Home Depot and the parts are just as good as the others.  AND they have everything I need.  Go into Lowe’s and ask for the wire ties needed to fasten the top and bottom of the fencing to the rails and I get a blank stare: “Ummmm … bailing wire is over here, or we could sell you this expensive stainless steel wire…”

No, I want the aluminum ties used by fencing companies. has them and a bag of 100 pre-cut ties with one end precurled is just $6.00.

cut-off saw for making gatesI bought a metal-cutting wheel at the local Ace Hardware so I could use my chop saw to get accurate, square, clean cuts in the rail stock — I just needed to clean out all sawdust from around the saw because cutting steel pipes gives off an impressive incendiary spray.

I bought some 10’ top rail at Home Depot.  The online supplier can’t ship lengths of rail.  What my local Lowe’s carries is not 1 3/8” (1.375”) diameter but a metric “equivalent” (1.30”).  That smidge of difference generated a lot of bad reviews from people who bought fittings and rail and were angry when Lowe’s own fittings don’t fit the Lowe’s rail.  They had to cut shim stock to make the joints tight.  So I drove to Home Depot in Morristown to get proper top rail.

gates framedI built the frames at home and took them to work today.  I stripped the mesh off of the old gates (because I cannot find 36” high chain link mesh) and mounted it to the new frames.  I also bought a chain link stretcher that worked pretty well.  It didn’t want to pull the tension bar over quite enough to get the bolt through  the tension band … but being a bright fellow I found a way to shim the pivot and get it to work.

gates installedThe end result is, I think, a big improvement in appearance, functionality and ease of use.  It took me a couple of hours to complete the gates and mount them.  The first one took far longer than the second one, because I was figuring it all out on that one.  Once I knew what I was doing (I’ve never done this before) it went fast and easy.

There are quite a few other gates that need work.  Most just need the bottom rail replaced: it’s rusting but not gone yet, not a complete rebuild.  I’ll tackle those as I can.  A co-worker, Julie, said she has a bunch of top rail stored in her yard that they don’t need and I can have for future projects.  That will cut costs even more!

H.S.J.C. has bought a building and land in an industrial park, but it’s going to take another three years or so to raise the capital funds and produce designs needed to refurbish that building into a “shelter”.  So this building is going to have to serve us for a while.  I’ll do what I can to help with that.

Best Laid Plans

calendar, planning, routineThe Rescue group I work with (Steele Away Home) was supposed to have a medical day yesterday (Friday) so I requested to be off work that day — since I have two dogs that needed to be spayed or neutered.  But the mobile vet clinic would not start, so the medical day got rescheduled to next Thursday. I work Thursday — I’m off Monday and Wednesday.  Monday I’m supposed to take Marie’s car to the mechanicn place.

Today I asked around work if anyone would swap days with me. Bobby said he needed to be off Monday because his wife has a doctor’s appointment and he needs to stay home to take care of their 3 kids. That would complicate getting Marie’s car to the mechanic, but we could drop it off Sunday, so I agreed to the swap.  That means an extra trip into town and leaving her car in the parking lot overnight, but … it would be there so they could get started on it Monday morning.

When I got home there was a message on the answering machine. It was from Bobby. His wife’s appointment is Wednesday this week, not Monday as usual: the first time that’s ever happened! So he’d rather swap Wednesday for Thursday not Monday for Thursday.

I love it when things just work out!

Tale of the Toolbox

toolbox basic

Last week there was a fence/gate repair job that needed doing at work.  A co-worker, Bobby, and I were asked to take a look at it and see what we could do.  The boss had some parts that might help.  They even had a toolbox … of sorts.

Bobby had recently been assigned the task of cleaning out several junk drawers, finding all the tools and putting them into a donated toolbox, sorting through the rest: toss the detritus and sort the usable “stuff” into big plastic bags by category.  So our task now was  simpler.

However, the toolbox consisted of 3 hammers, a half-dozen badly abused screw drivers, and a pair of pliers.  We decided to bring tools from home and do the job the next day.  Bobby wasn’t there the next day, so I accomplished the job with the tools I brought.  All I was missing was a set of deep sockets (which I didn’t have but Bobby did) and a ratchet.  But I did the job with a crescent wrench.  The sockets do the job faster and with fewer bloody smears on the fencing, but a crescent wrench will do in a pinch.

I wanted to double the hinge at the top of the gate (which is at least 8 feet wide, maybe more) to keep it from twisting the hinge again.  I lacked one part and a couple of bolts to do that.  I picked up the hardware on my day off.  I also decided to assemble a usable toolbox.

My Toolbox History

Continue reading “Tale of the Toolbox”

The Future of Motor Vehicles and Travel

flying motor vehicles

self driving cars transportationThis, supposedly humorous, picture has been making the rounds on Facebook. I imagine we’ve all spaced out behind the wheel of our motor vehicles once or twice. What is frightening is that this post has collected dozens of comments from people who say they’ve done it. Many say it’s happened several times. Some say it happens to them frequently. That is worrisome, and the biggest reason I can think of to push for the development of self-driving cars.

My Twin-Brother-By-Another-Mother and I have discussed this a few times, and the following is a melding of our ideas.

Self driving motor vehicles will be a novelty that catches on slowly. People described above will be the primary customers: people who, for whatever reason, cannot manage to pay attention to their driving will see self driving cars as a great convenience. As the vehicles on the road become primarily self-driving, society will be ready for the next step. Continue reading “The Future of Motor Vehicles and Travel”

Adventures in Dentistry

Another article from my moldy-oldies file, but when originally published folks did find it entertaining, so I’ll pop in in here.

Yesterday I renewed a relationship that has for many (many) years been neglected.  No, not neglected: avoided;  stringently and purposefully avoided.  I made a trip to a dentist.

You see when I was a wee lad, long (long) ago, my parents would take me to the dentist every year for a check-up.  And it seems he would always find a cavity or two to drill out and fill.  Early on they used Novocain and I don’t remember it as being particularly torturous – not fun by any means, but not like being stripped naked, covered with honey and tossed into a fire ant hill. Continue reading “Adventures in Dentistry”

For a Peek Inside

This tale was written years ago, filed, lost, found, lost again,  recovered again, and now posted here. For friends and relatives who often jump to conclusions, this is ancient history:
I am not sick.

medical emergency, doctor, hospital, testing, costThe small pick-up truck hurled along the winding, bumpy mountain highway, the tighter turns and bumpiest spots elicited increased groaning from him.  The driver looked away from the road just long enough to glance at him and ask, “Are you alright?”

He was curled up in the passenger seat clutching his belly.  He reached over and gently patted her arm, “Just ignore the screaming and wailing from this side and get us there as quickly – and safely – as you can.”

Eyes back on the road she steered through another curve and retorted, “If it gets too bad, I’ll just turn up the radio to drown you out.”

“Good girl.”  Continue reading “For a Peek Inside”

Reasons to Skip Thanksgiving

thankful, thanksgivingI heard an interesting program on the radio yesterday. It started by citing a poll which asked people, “If you were offered a thousand dollars to forgo the traditional Thanksgiving celebration, would you do it?” The majority of those asked stated they would pass on the money because their traditional celebration with family is too important to them.

That’s a good answer: family should be more important than money. But in many cases Thanksgiving seems to have gone the way of most “traditional” holidays: especially this year.

With social and political issues causing deep rifts in families and social groups, can your gathering be kept civil and respectful of one another? Can you be thankful for their presence in your life and at your table?

Every year I hear more people moaning about the amount of work and expense they had to put into preparing The Feast and cleaning up after. If these are things you dread as it approaches and complain about afterward, can you be truly thankful for any of it?

Has this holiday lost its meaning? Do you spend more than 23 seconds just before you eat being thankful for anything, or is it all about a long weekend, gluttony, football, and a big party?

If you are celebrating Thanksgiving, make it about being thankful. If you cannot be thankful for what you have, where you are in life, and for your family and friends; you might as well skip the whole thing, or tell the gang, “We’re going out for dinner – and it’s Dutch treat.”

Smoke Makes for a Rude Awakening

4:30 AM: we are awakened by the shrill, asynchronous, electronic screams of our smoke alarms calling for us to “Get out! Get out! Get out!”

smoke alarmI hop out of bed, wind my way through the herd of large dogs dashing about in confusion over the painful assault on their ears. I check the house. It’s a small house: it does not take long to find that there is no fire, no smoldering appliance, indeed, no visible smoke. I grab a magazine off the kitchen island and wave it at the alarm nearest the kitchen.  It’s all I can think of to do at the moment: fanning the hallway alarm silences them when I’ve been making toast. I’m not good at toast.

Amazingly (or perhaps coincidentally) that works: the alarms fall silent.

Blondie and Tinker stride to the door, “We’re outta here, that’s just RUDE.”  I don’t blame them and wonder what set the alarms off. Continue reading “Smoke Makes for a Rude Awakening”

Movie Review: Alien Fury, Countdown To Invasion

I find it interesting how many of the conspiracy channels are running video “expose’s” insisting top government officials have leaked classified information to them that aliens will invade Earth in late 2016 or early 2017. I guess they’re hoping their followers didn’t see Anonymous and WikiLeaks pieces on the Beneson Strategy Group advice to the Clinton Foundation on the (potential) plan to use Project FireSign (a.k.a. Blue Beam) to institute martial law because of an apparent alien incursion.

alien furySpeaking of lies, deception, and twisting everything: I watched a movie the other day called Alien Fury: Countdown to Invasion.

This is the story of a government agency (S.T.R.A.W.) that discovers spacecraft massing on the Moon and tries to warn the military about an impending invasion. Of course the military thinks they’re wacky – until a spy satellite sent to take their own photos is shot down, after they glimpse alien ships, then they prepare to nuke the alien base … and things start to get really weird. Continue reading “Movie Review: Alien Fury, Countdown To Invasion”