maker, tools, equipment, process

Need: Beta Tester with Nook or Kobo or Sony eBook Reader

You'll get a copy of the 1922 Sears electrical/radio catalog in ePub format, if you'll tell me how the images look.

The pictures are high-resolution. and every ebook reading device has a different screen.

This is what I wrote about, circuitously, in my previous message. Send mail to mjward at-sign hidden-knowledge dot com and I'll send you the URL to download the book.

Thanks for your help!
maker, tools, equipment, process

Have a Nook or Sony or Kobo e-book reader? Free beta-test e-book Sears 1922 Radio catalog

I'm publishing another e-book. This one is a scanned (and cleaned up) reprint of the Sears, Roebuck 1922 Electrical Goods and Radio Apparatus Catalog.

The content is mostly page images, 64 of them, scanned and photoshopped, and showing a huge amount of detail. You can see the description here:

The Kindle version is already finished, but the ePub version has its own little issues. Someone with a B&N Nook or a Sony or Kobo reader could do me a favor by downloading a free copy of this and telling me things about how the images work when you try to use it. It's an 8 MB file.

Drop me a note mjward at-sign hidden-knowledge dot com and I'll tell you where to find it to download to your computer etc. (I can't tell you how to get it onto your reading hardware; you'll have to know that yourself.)
maker, tools, equipment, process

The Past is another country, but sometimes you can get a memory visa

The other night we saw the 42nd Street Moon production of "Sugar," the Broadway stage musical version of the 1959 movie "Some Like it Hot." I was doubtful going in, but highly amused by the most excellent performance, and recommend it to those of you who like this sort of thing.

Thinking about the movie reminded me of the "Friends of the Italian Opera," in the film a group of gangsters who rented halls under that name, and this reminded me of the "Friends of the Wagnerian Opera," a group connected with the Los Trancos Woods Community Marching Band (described as a spinoff of the Stanford U. radio station KZSU in this article in the Stanford Historical Society magazine) (PDF; see page 18): They were certainly connected with the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band (LSJUMB).

The FWO were not gangsters, insofar as I know, but they did have an excellent Lamb Roast every Spring. They have a website full of historic pictures: and it would not surprise me to discover that this organization was important in the development of Silicon Valley as a technological center, or perhaps as a center of chaotic zen management theory.

I went to several of the Lamb Roasts because a friend had become connected with FWO while an editor at Stanford University Press. FWO published a cookbook, which you can find at dealers in used and rare books. "Dutch" Martinich was in charge of the food, as I recall, and now I find a Martinich family connection with Ridge Winery.

LTWCMB is sometimes considered as a formative influence on the LSJUMB's practice of controlled chaos on the football field at halftime. If you've ever seen the Stanford Band running around the field when other bands would be marching in close order, you've seen what I speak of.

All of this is linked. If Marilyn Monroe, star of "Some Like It Hot," had ever stopped in at the FWO Lamb Roast, even if she didn't play rugby in the Mud Bowl, the world would have become a very different, and better, place.
maker, tools, equipment, process

Home Archaeology Kit

My part of the project to dig up the back yard has been slightly delayed by some archaeological discoveries.

I had already known about the cement floor about six inches under the soil surface layer in the Pepper Tree bower area, as a granite wall sticks up in the back, and we had uncovered a bit of when we call in the San Jose city archeologist to look at it. Her belief was that it does not date to the 1890's, when the land under our house was part of a park and race track, but rather from the teens or 20's when people were building Italian pond-type water features. I've never been too sure about this, since the remaining section of granite wall runs several feet high, but I have no proof of anything specific. The house was built about 1910, and it seems likely that parts of the yard have not been shifted since then.

Anyway, to continue the story, I'm removing the top six inches of the soil and flensing out the weeds and their roots: burr clover, oxalis, Bermuda grass, and several I cannot name. We'll leave the soil unplanted, but we'll surely have a year or two of mass fertility from the weed seeds we didn't catch during the digging. The soil will lie under sheet cardboard (large boxes available from the corner Gym Equipment store and the somewhat more distant Liberty Safe of San Jose) and mulch while we wait for the seedlings to struggle and die.

In this area of which I speak, the soil goes down only two or three inches before hitting a layer of rubble. Heck, we could be Time Team digging at Turkdean. I've now pulled out a nice pile of that rubble, some of it flat, with one smooth surface, and large enough to use for free-form stepping stones -- many examples of which already lie in place around the gardens -- but most of it just chunks of concrete, or mid-sized gray granite. In one area I dug down a foot and a half before I ran out of rubble; the previous owners had apparently just knocked everything down in place when they stopped trying to use it.

Suddenly I noticed large chunks of clear bottle glass, visibly iridescent when I pulled it out of the dirt. It turns to be a crushed, but apparently complete, bottle of a San Jose whiskey from the 19th C or early 20th C. (The bottle has those words in raised letters in the glass itself, a common practice in that era.) If it were whole it would be worth something. Even as it is (or is being; there are some parts still in the ground) it's a fun thing to see. Haven't found any more bottles there, sadly, and the rest of the artifacts we dig up in the yard are much less interesting.

I have found lots of pretty rocks while digging through our soil, but unless I build a grotto or a water feature, there's not going to be any way to show them.
maker, tools, equipment, process

John Carter

It's here this week, but based on the reviews I don't expect it to stay long.

Friends kept saying it was great, and so it was! It's mythmaking in the key of adventure, and I suppose the reviewers were expecting something else. Or perhaps they saw some other movie.
maker, tools, equipment, process


Suddenly I have gotten once again involved in the improvement of the estate. Not only have I (mostly) cleaned up the workshop area of the garage, I've been installing insulation boards in the ceiling. This is a formidable task (just ask vgqn) involving ladders through the beams, and much offensive language.

I'm using 1" styrofoam boards, 4 x 8 feet in size, with an aluminized mylar thermal barrier. With the barrier facing into the garage, three beneficial effects: (1) light reflects off the ceiling and helps illuminate the room; (2) dirt and dust and chipping paint will no longer drift as readily into the workspace; and (3) oh, yes, there may be some insulating effect.

In other news, the path behind the garage is in progress, but on hold while I work on the insulation. It had been there, in unsatisfactory form but was turned upside down by the fence-builder who dumped earth on the rocks. In its new incarnation it will be clean; the too-large rocks will have been removed in favor of smaller ones you can put your foot down onto; and it will be free of dirt and weeds (for a while).

I've even helped Karen dig up part of the back yard, for its new life under mulch. A few years ago I dug up the entire front yard -- rototilled it too, and then double-dug and double-rototilled part of it; then rototilled in several hundred pounds of coffee grounds from our local Peet's and Starbucks outlets. It's now planted in raised beds (one half) and a meadow with gazebo and succulent garden (other half).

The hard part of digging up the lawn hereabouts is getting all of the roots of the Bermuda grass out. You never get it all, even if you sort it by hand -- which we did. But with time, and the fierce dedication of fanaticism, you can get it all, generation by generation. As we hope.

Karen will have to tell about the roses she's been taking out, to move in salvias, on the sidewalk terraces. Today we established a perimeter where Tropicana and one of the Birds of Paradise must establish a do-not-cross line. (No more of this reaching in for the other's innards, you two.)
maker, tools, equipment, process

Rain; drip; scanner; books

It rained here last night for the first time in weeks. Normally Northern California has a lot of rain November -> February; this is the start of a drought. (We have water left over from last year, which was very wet; the real worry comes if no rain soon, or next year.)

I was close to falling asleep when I heard the ticking of a clock that is not there. It was water, dripping down a hollow inside the bedroom wall. This is an old problem, one I had thought most recently fixed by the expenditure in October of many many dollars. Today I climbed up, cleaned the outflow channel from the flat roof section, and aided by vgqn hosed some blockage out of the relevant downspout. This afternoon brought visit to the hardware store for a downspout funnel and some flashing adhesive. And I hope to gods this fixes it.

The hardware is across the street from the Fry, and in Fry's I bought a refurb Epson 500V scanner for $90. This model is supposedly optimized for scanning slides and negatives, and I want to give it a try. I have thousands of 35 mm slides and photos, pre-digital-camera, and I'd like to get them into the world of pixels. We shall see well how this works. I know that one friend is looking into buying a Nikon slide scanner, but another tells me the optimized flatbed scanners are as good as our old slides are. I'll do all this work in my spare time.

Bought nine books at the Santa Clara Library Sale. One was a Finnish cookbook, a spec buy to see if it rang a note with Karen. One was a better/dup copy of the "Old House Compendium." One was a good copy of a recent tech trends book that I will read and give away in the usual place. One I will try to sell on Amazon (where I have sold a lot of books). I think, though, that for the other books, I have simply squandered my money on useful or interesting titles.
maker, tools, equipment, process


Replaced dead outside floodlight by the butler's pantry with CFL flood rated for outside. Replaced NiMH battery in front solar garden light array on front steps and cleaned surfaces. Re-installed other solar garden light array (wire resoldered last night). Bought replacement rubber washers for leaking bathroom faucet. Disdecorated Xmas tree. Photoshopped and uploaded and annotated eleven covers from TRUE CONFESSIONS onto the website. Bought four bottles of wine at Grocery Outlet, of which one of the reds seems worth buying more of. Did other stuff. Didn't get to all the things on my list.
maker, tools, equipment, process

All Clear or So

We had sixty or seventy people come through the NYE party, and the new year did not recoil in fright. Everybody was out by 2, and almost everything is cleaned up (tho not put away). We're about to drive north to an Open House that's been a traditional pass-along and talk-a-lot item for us for years.

Someone picked choice items from the giveaway pile, but then stashed them in a bag and forgot the bag; if that was you, your new possessions are calling to you to come and pick them up. This year, less wine and more champagne was drunk than last year. Diet sodas and flavored waters were big hits; the filtered water tank went through two cycles; and the sugared sodas were mostly drunk (though we bought too much Coke, all too easy to do at Costco). As is common at NYE, we ended up with more beer than we started with.

The situation with food, and snacks; ah, what can I say? You are all the most remarkable of friends, and have excellent taste as well as excellent friends. Thank you for bringing all the wonderful things you brought!

I took some pictures, but haven't had the boldness and rashness to look at them yet. Any of you facing outstanding warrants (in the old Cacaphony phrase) should drop me a note if you don't want an image of you online. As you will note in the icon above, I am not afraid to show myself as I am; so let that be a lesson to all of us.