I Welded Something

  • When my infrared camera came in on Friday, I played with it a little that afternoon, but I couldn’t spend my time with it because I had a party to prepare.  I snapped some photos around the house, and they showed some promise.  The next morning, I played a little more with them in Photoshop, and then I went out to the park.  The first park I went to wasn’t a great setting, so thinking about where else I could go, I remembered the Shaw Nature Reserve.  I had time, so I went there, with no other planning than to eat something along the way.  I took several photos, mostly just experimenting, but one of them was actually a fairly great photo.  When I got home and processed it with Photoshop, I was really happy with it.  I posted it to Facebook, along with another.  I kept coming back to look at this one all evening and the next morning, which told me that I really liked it.  So, I’ve ordered a print of it, which I will have mounted and framed.
  • I stumbled across a video about an easy way to remove broken exhaust manifold studs from the cylinder head using an arc welder.  I had a broken stud (broken before I touched it), and I own an arc welder, so I gave it a try.  It was unbelievably easy.  However, what has really made me happy is that I think I actually understand arc welding now.  While I have technically owned an arc welder for many years (probably ten), I never got the hang of using it.  I tried it when I first got it, and I was hopeless.  I concluded at the time that I would have to devote lots of practice to becoming even passably competent with it.  However, watching this video (which isn’t even a tutorial about arc welding) kind of showed me how I was doing it wrong, and how it was supposed to work.  So today, I screwed around with the welder a little and I was able to make it work.  Then I tried it on the broken stud, and it worked very easily, just the way it worked in the video.  So not only did I save myself from an otherwise frustrating job of drilling out the stud and trying to remove it with a screw extractor, but I may have actually learned how to weld.  Suddenly, I am thinking about all the welding jobs I could do.
  • I cleaned my garage.  For the first time, after having lived here for more than five years, I am able to fit two cars in my garage.  It’s a big deal, potentially life changing.
  • I binged the third season of Stranger Things all in one night, getting to bed at four o’clock in the morning.  It was pretty good.  Tightly written and suspenseful throughout.
  • I have been very interested in in the upcoming Star Trek: Picard, even though there has been almost no information about it.  One piece of information that was released is that the show runner will be Michael Chabon.  I have had three of his novels on my reading list for years, but I hadn’t gotten around to any of them.  When I learned of his involvement in the new Star Trek series, I bumped him up to the top of my list, and I have begun reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (a Pulitzer winner).
  • My recent reading has all been good.  I enjoyed Spinning Silver, which is a Hugo award nominee and just won a Locus award for best fantasy novel.  The Thin Man was a quick and enjoyable read from the prohibition era.  Hunger Makes the Wolf was a surprisingly good read (surprising because I bought it solely for the title) that seems to have received very little recognition.  A Memory Called Empire, a novel pushed heavily by Tor, was good.  I knew Head On, a sequel to John Scalzi’s Lock In, would be good.  By the time I reached the end of The Ruin of Kings, I found I was happy with the whole, though I must say that the format annoyed me quite a bit at the beginning.
  • Though I tried, I did NOT read Space Opera.  I hated it by page 5, and I should have stopped there, but it is next month’s book club book.  The difference between this book and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is the difference between randomness and creativity.  Where Douglas Adams writes in finely crafted sentences, Catherynne M. Valente writes in lists of loosely unrelated shit.  When my oldest niece was three years old, she tried to make up jokes without actually understanding humor, and Space Opera is slightly better than that.  After two chapters, I started skimming, and then realized that was hopeless too.
  • A while back, I brought home a Smith & Wesson Model 686 Plus Deluxe.  I purchased it not for carrying or hunting, but just for shooting.  I as disappointed by the trigger.  Smith & Wesson triggers, at least in their revolvers, are legendary for being perfect, but this one wasn’t.  I could feel some trigger creep and some roughness in that creep.  Yesterday, I disassembled the thing, in contemplation of stoning the trigger engagement surfaces.  In the process, I discovered that this point had never been lubricated.  A little oil in the right place, and it works just as it should.  A little more dry firing, and it should be as good as my other two Smiths.