Tools

Just got this from a Canadian cousin (hence some of the North-American spellings). It’s one of the better forwarded e-mails that I’ve had recently.

DRILL PRESS

A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your beer across the room, denting the freshly-painted project which you had carefully set in the corner where nothing could get to it.

WIRE WHEEL

Cleans paint off bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprints and hard-earned calluses from fingers in about the time it takes you to say, ‘Oh sh—’

ELECTRIC HAND DRILL

Normally used for spinning pop rivets in their holes until you die of old age.

SKILL SAW

A portable cutting tool used to make studs too short.

PLIERS

Used to round off bolt heads. Sometimes used in the creation of blood-blisters.

BELT SANDER

An electric sanding tool commonly used to convert minor touch-up jobs into major refinishing jobs.

HACKSAW

One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle. It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.

VISE-GRIPS

Generally used after pliers to completely round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.

OXYACETYLENE TORCH

Used almost entirely for lighting various flammable objects in your shop on fire. Also handy for igniting the grease inside the wheel hub out of which you want to remove a bearing race.

TABLE SAW

A large stationary power tool commonly used to launch wood projectiles for testing wall integrity.

HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK

Used for lowering an automobile to the ground after you have installed your new brake shoes, trapping the jack handle firmly under the bumper.

BAND SAW

A large stationary power saw primarily used by most shops to cut good aluminum sheet into smaller pieces that more easily fit into the trash can after you cut on the inside of the line instead of the outside edge.

TWO-TON ENGINE HOIST

A tool for testing the maximum tensile strength of everything you forgot to disconnect.

PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER

Normally used to stab the vacuum seals under lids or for opening old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splashing oil on your shirt; but can also be used, as the name implies, to strip out Phillips screw heads.

STRAIGHT SCREWDRIVER

A tool for opening paint cans. Sometimes used to convert common slotted screws into non-removable screws and butchering your palms.

PRY BAR

A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50 cent part.

HOSE CUTTER

A tool used to make hoses too short.

HAMMER

Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate the most expensive parts adjacent the object we are trying to hit.

UTILITY KNIFE

Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on contents such as seats, vinyl records, liquids in plastic bottles, collector magazines, refund checks, and rubber or plastic parts. Especially useful for slicing work clothes, but only while in use.

DAMM-IT TOOL

Any handy tool that you grab and throw across the garage while yelling ‘DAMM-IT’ at the top of your lungs. It is also, most often, the next tool that you will need.

Round-Up

I’ve been sitting here finishing off bits of blog entries which I’ve started recently, but never got round to finishing. Here’s a quick recap for stuff you might have missed.

Furthest back is the cautionary tale of trying to have a shower while in a hotel, although I should be thankful at least that I had lights while doing so. I’ve added some thoughts on whether resolution actually matters in a digital camera, and then been thankful for the most basic of data entry devices. More recently, we’ve been shopping for shoes, but only after my inept display of romance.

Shoes

Lucy’s really growing up now.

Yesterday we went to Southampton and bought her her first pair of shoes. They’re dead cute (size 2-1/2 G) and pink, with a tiny little box and everything. We got them in the Clark’s concession within Mothercare and as a nice touch they even give you a Polariod picture of your little treasure with her first pair of shoes on.

Being naturally cynical, I assumed this would be an extra £2.50 at the till, but apparently it is gratis. Twenty quid for the shoes, mind you, but that’s by-the-by.

New shoes

I’m too Stupid for Anonymous Cards

Valentine’s Day – a time when lovers everywhere buy expensive novelty tat / flowers for their chosen one. Apart from Christmas, I’m guessing it’s the time when card shops make the most money.

I remember at school it was also a chance to send anonymous cards to the girl that you fancied, although I never worked out why the girls didn’t send them (or was that just me?). Nowadays, however, I’m just too stupid and disorganised to send an anonymous card.

Take this year for example. My wife and I agreed that buying presents for a Hallmark day was a waste of time, but a card would be required. So naturally, I left my card-shopping until Thursday evening; with the writing part left until 10pm on Friday night.

It’s a good job that I hadn’t planned on trying to cast an air of excitement with an unsigned card through the mail for anyone this year though. After writing the card out, it (very) slowly dawned on me that I hadn’t managed to pick up an envelope for the card. In the end, I just stuck it on the sideboard for Katrina to discover in the morning.

Normally the nice people at the till would keep you right, but this was done through Sainsbury’s fast-track system, which means the cashier never needs to see what’s in your trolley: it has been packed into bags before you even get there.

So there we go – too stupid to pick up an envelope.

Ust a Nimute!

Hurrah! I’ve got the keyboard fixed on my work laptop today.

When I’m working at home, Lucy often wants to come and say hello to me while I’m sitting in the kitchen. She likes to sit on my knee and watch me working on the computer. Unfortunately, she also likes to play with the keyboard.

Somehow, the other day she managed to flick the cap off the letter “J” on my keyboard. I’ve done this myself many times: if your nail gets caught underneath the key it can jump off. Normally quite easily fixed, but for some reason this time it broke one of the plastic mounting, rendering it unrepairable.

This meant that, while the ‘J’ key was functional, you touched the bare membrane underneath, rather than pressing a proper key. This was a bit of a pain, because one of the main passwords that I use several times a day at work contains a j character. I promptly changed that password, because it was becoming annoying to try and type quickly when you can’t even feel the key you’re pressing.

Normally my ThinkPad T42p would now be classed as beyond economic repair (it’s over 4 years old) and a new one would be ordered. Three or four years ago, I would have jumped at the chance of a new machine, but age has provided me with great wisdom and has demonstrated that shiny kit syndrome does not always pay dividends. I decided to try and hold out for a fix, otherwise I need to go through the pain of getting a whole new machine setup from scratch, not to mention the problems which had been reported with some of the newer laptops which were becoming standard issue.

Thankfully, one of the very kind people in our local tech support department managed to source a used keyboard from a dead machine and I fitted it myself in about 5 minutes. Three screws in the bottom, shove the keyboard at the top, pop it out and remove the ribbon cable. Swap keyboard, reverse the instructions and done.

The only problem is the type on the ‘N’ and ‘M’ keys are worn off, but that’s only a problem if you don’t know your way around a keyboard. Mow where’s that buttom for creating a mew post?

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