Saturday, May 21, 2005

Scratching Things Off My List

I finally unpacked from the "Wild Man's Weekend." It's amazing how well stuff keeps if you stick it in a toolbox and go about your business. But I brought the backpack and an armful of clothing that had collected in the back seat (don't ask--it ain't like that) of the truck. I unpacked the two old-style camp lanterns and was happy to learn they had survived my driving.

Another thing on my list was to fix the garage door. One of the springs had busted, making the eyebolt it was connected to look like an old man with rheumatism. Everything is going up and down nicely again.

While I was in the garage, I looked around and found an old pipe pouch a friend had given me. It was conveniently near a container of mink oil, so I gave it a good going over. I will begin putting it back to its intended use shortly. I also found a holster for a cordless drill and brought that back to life.

I looked at table saws when I was getting the door parts at HD. I couldn't bring myself to spend the money tonight, though. Mostly because I need to thoroughly clean the garage to make a place for it. I have an older saw that is serviceable, but I'd like to get one with all the guards and a larger blade. I'm feeling the urge to build more stuff and it usually coincides with an urge to spend money on tools as well as materials.

Somewhere on this list is Wash the Truck. Somebody must have spilled WD-40 on this task because it keeps slipping further down the list.

New Fuel?

Yesterday I did some research on alternative fuels. After the riding lesson today, we dropped another $75 to slake Clifford's thirst. The good news is that simple reveals an average of 16.75 mpg. Not bad for a husky fella like Clifford. But at $2.29 per gallon, it doesn't take long for a fillup to become a letdown.

A gallon of 2% biodiesel can be had in the Westminster area for $2.19 a gallon. From what I read, there is no adverse effect in performance. The plus is fewer carbon emissions and an excuse to go to McDonalds and Burger King to beg for fryer grease. For $3,000, I can set up a turnkey operation in my garage that will yield as many as 40 gallons of biodiesel each day for a cost of about $1.00 per gallon. I can even attend a biodiesel "home brew" training in Iowa to learn about how to do it.

This trend toward green fuels seems more established on the Eastern Shore, although the Beltsville Ag Research Center is apparently running all their diesel vehicles on it. I haven't done the math to establish how many gallons of fuel I need to "brew" to make such a setup pay for itself, but the idea is intriguing. Then again, so is buying a motorcycle or moving to a place where bicycling is feasible instead of potentially terminal.


Today was beautiful. At the last minute, Pookums remembered she had a riding lesson, so we hustled out the door. Once there, I gotta tell you, it was just a beautiful day. I sat in Clifford working a crossword puzzle and every time I looked up I saw something more strking than the time before. You know it's a killer day when long grass at the corner of a building looks good. Volunteers were out at the riding center spreading mulch, putting topsoil in a couple of old watering troughs put into service as planters near one of the outside rings, and making dreary fences white once again. The way the sunlight was hitting everything made colors jump. I realize it was just a bunch of folks going about their normal business, but today it seemed so much more than that. Go, God! What a lovely day.