When I'm out riding my bicycle, I'm scanning the ground for anything that might be a hazard. As a result, I often spot things that are worth picking up. In my circle of friends, these items are referred to as 'groundscore'.
On a recent ride up near Dodger Stadium, I spied a pair of needlenose pliers, circled back and picked them up.
When I got home and took a closer look, they were a bit beat up, but would be great if I cleaned them up a bit.
They had a little rust and grease on them, and the rubber grips were a bit torn up.
I cut off the grips with a knife and washed the pliers in dish soap to get as much grease and dirt off as I could. Michele told me I had toss the scrubbie I used since it was now "unacceptable" for use on our food dishes.
To get the rust off, I decided to get a little help from chemistry. I placed the pliers in a glass dish with vinegar and let the acetic acid do it's thing.
Within minutes, the weak acid was attacking the rust and breaking it down. I left it in the vinegar for about two days.
After washing the pliers off from the vinegar bath, I went to work with steel wool to remove anything else that remained and generally polished up the pliers. I put a little WD-40 into the joint to make sure no water was lurking there.
Next step was putting on new grips. I decided to use Plasti Dip, which is a simple way to coat tools or anything with a rubberized coasting easily.
I strung up the pliers from above with enough room to put the Plasti Dip can under it and simply dipped the pliers handles into the can.
I put three coats on the handles, waiting about two hours between coats. I let it dry overnight before touching it.
Here is the final result. The look great IMHO. The grips aren't as rubbery as the original ones, but they still look and feel great.
In the future, my eyes will be peeled for new groundscore tools to refurbish!
Cruft Manor returned to our Halloween traditions and had our busiest year ever. We once again had plenty of full size candies, made a listing of costumes, and made a timelapse movie.
300 Full Size Candies, ready for the trick or treaters!
Our pumpkins looked great this year.
The outside of the house, with our terrifying Dalek guarding the door.
My daughter Mira, as a Kyoshi Warrior from Last Airbender with her boyfriend, Nick.
Best costume of the night: The boy as the Death Star!
Great couple costume of the House & Carl from Up.
Once again, I made a timelapse movie of handing out candy to the kids. Unfortunately, the GoPro camera stopped before the end when it ran out of batteries. I'll need to rig up a power supply in the future.
When people come to the door, I ask every person what they were dressed as and wrote down their answers. I am careful to ask what they are, accepting their answers rather than interpreting what I see.
Here are the top ten costumes for the last nine years compared.
Our biggest amount of visitors in recorded history of Cruft Manor. The same generic costumes like ninja, witch, and cat popped to the top again. A brand new entrant to the top 10 were the Monster High Doll costumes. These are very popular with the young ladies. Lots of homemade costumes for the older kids which is good to see. Since I speak with every trick or treater, I get time to really look at their costumes and talk about them. I'm never in a rush and want each kid to be able to take their time. They are often paralyzed with indecision when faced with the choice of full size candies.
Almost everyone had a costume this year, but we still ran into a few without costumes. We were prepared this year and had masks on hand to hand out. The costumeless only got a candy if they took a mask and put it on. People were kinda excited about this.
After giving out ~300 full size candies, we ran out a little after 9PM and closed up. A few kids came by as I was shutting down and they got microwave popcorn packets.
This year's complete costume list of 264 people:
3 50s Girl
1 80s Girl
1 80s Witch
1 Accident Victim
1 Airline Pilot
1 Apple Juice
1 Army Man
1 Ballerina Zombie Roadkill
1 Black & White Waldo
1 Black Swan
1 Bloody Mary
1 Boo (Monsters, Inc.)
2 Buzz Lightyear
1 Candy Corn
3 Captain America
1 Carl from Up
1 Carlos Beltran
1 CERT Person
1 Clark Kent
1 Clone Trooper
1 Construction Worker
1 Cookie Monster
1 Crash Test Dummy
1 Dark Alice
1 Doctor Zombie
1 Dodgers Fan
1 Easy E (in blackface)
1 Enderman - Minecraft
2 Evil Jester
1 Ezio of Assassin's Creed
2 Finn from Adventuretime
1 Fionna from Adventuretime
1 Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
1 Green Lantern
1 Grillin & Chillin
2 Grim Reaper
1 Halo Soldier
1 Hobo Angel
1 Hockey Player
2 Iron Man
1 Iron Man III
1 Jack Skelington
2 Jake the Pirate
2 Jason Voorhees
1 Katara from Last Airbender
2 Killer Clown
1 Kyoshi Warrior from Last Airbender
1 Lightning McQueen
1 Mad Scientist
1 Master Chief (Halo)
1 Matrix Person
1 Michael Myers
1 Mickey Mouse
4 Minnie Mouse
1 Miss Captain America
7 Monster High Doll
1 Ninja Lord
1 Old Lady
1 Old Man
1 Pink Goth Pirate
1 Pink Power Ranger
1 Poker Cards
2 Power Ranger
1 Raggedy Ann
1 Red Queen
1 Rick from the Walking Dead
1 Roman Empress
1 Russian Soldier Alien
1 Sailor Venus
1 Saka from Last Airbender
1 Scary Clown
1 Singer Bumblebee
1 Skeleton Motorcycle Rider
1 Snow White
1 Storm Trooper
2 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle
1 Teenage Zombie
1 The Death Star
1 The Doctor (11th)
1 The Doctor (9th)
1 The House from Up
1 USC Student
1 Vietnam Soldier
1 Warrior's Girl
2 Wednesday Adams
1 Wonder Woman
1 X-Ray Patient Gone Wrong
1 Zombie Cheerleader
1 Zombie Skeleton
I tap my hand on The Gate, my ring connects, and the sound travels up the hillside.
Drinking from my bottle, I think about slowing down my heart, and look down the canyon, toward the city.
Cyclists find challenge in riding uphill. Sounds a little silly, but the tough work of riding up a steep hill is the goal for many in the quest to get better.
The Gate is at the end of a short route I've ridden over a hundred times. My friends and I call it Tour de Steve, in honor of our friend and coach, who loves to take people up it. Others know it as Paso Alto to Glen Oaks Dead End.
The route is about 2.5 miles at an average grade of ~5%. In cycling terms, it's challenging, but not insane. "A good training climb" is how most people view it. The different parts have names in my mind that only I know. In my mind there's the "veteran straight", the "quick down", the "hot bend", and "not quite corner".
I've ridden up in group, dragging new riders along, encouraging them upwards. I've ridden up when feeling full of energy and when my muscles are cramping. I've ridden up in the pouring rain, the blazing summer heat, enveloped in fog, and in the fading light of dusk. I've ridden up with my heart heavy from one of the inevitable gut punches that life can bring. I've ridden up after surgeries and broken bones.
Climbing up to the The Gate is part of many of my rides. It's how I measure myself. With all the technology someone can use, nothing is more revealing than how you actually feel while testing yourself.
I rarely ride up with others. It's a ride I do when alone. Sometimes for speed, sometimes as a warm-up to the rest of my day, sometimes simply to see if I'm healed enough make it. Sometimes it's simple to see if I can will myself to do something hard instead of taking the easy road home.
The point is to ride it, regardless how I'm feeling. To push myself, even though no one else cares or is even watching. The climb is just about me, no one else.
Everyone needs a Gate to reach. A way to see how you are doing, without comparing yourself to others, or caring what others think. In today's connected world, many are obsessed with sharing and comparing everything publicly. Looking at the relentless oversharing that make up much of our personal interactions, it seem to me that rarely do people have a private test. A truly personal way to check themselves.
In the end, it's about how you feel about yourself, and not about anyone else and what they do or think. Getting to this is perhaps the toughest climb of all.
A while ago, I got an email out of the blue.
Many years ago, I started the geekcalendar.com site on a whim with my co-workers Travis and Yoshi. We messed around with the idea for a few months and promptly got bored. And so it sat for years on end, taking up space on my server.
When I first got the email, I thought, "I'm gunna be rich! This guy is already offering me money. He must really want it."
And then I thought a bit more. And I remembered why this weblog is called Cruftbox and not Cruft.
Way back in 2001 when I decided I wanted a separate domain name for my weblog, different than my site using my last name as the URL. My first choice was cruft.com. I loved the word, ever since I heard it as a teen back in the early 80s. I quickly found that cruft.com, .net, and .org were all registered already by a guy named John Walker. There was nothing hosted at the domains, but he had them registered. John Walker is a smart guy and one of the founders of Autocad. I wrote him an email about the domain. We went back & forth a bit with him asking what I wanted to do with the domain and my explaination. In the end, he decided that he was saving it for "something important".
I was a bit crushed, but started riffing on alternate names like boxofcruft.com, crufty.com, cruftlike, and others before finally settling on cruftbox.com. I registered the name and went on with my life.
For the record, Mr. Walker still has done nothing with the 'important' domain names of cruft.com, .net, and .org. They have been parked with Network Solutions for over a dozen years now, evidently waiting for an important use to come along. His own blog, fourmilab.ch, is good and I do check in with it from time to time.
It was that remembrance that helped me decide to give the domain to Chris and not charge him a silly amount for it. Trying to be true to the the geek spirit, I sent him this reply.
I would have loved to have seen his face as he read the letter.
After a bit of back and forth on specifics, he sent me a package and I transferred the domain registration to him.
Here is what I received.
I am happy that everything turned out so well. The Oreos have been eaten, the book has been read, and Watto graces my desk.
Chris now has the geekcalendar.com site up and running and I'm proud to have helped a little bit make something where there used to be nothing. Go take a look, it's kinda neat.
So if you are someone sitting on a bunch of domain names, maybe instead of waiting for "something important" or a big payday to arrive, have some fun. Let go of the things you aren't using and help something new appear.
As the Golden Rule says, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
You all might enjoy this. Last weekend I went out with my buddy Ken to ride the LA Marathon course before the runners started with a few thousand other cyclists. Kudos to Wolfpack Hustle for the organization.
I wrote this last year as a guest post for Byron at Bikehugger. I'm reposting it here as well. While I talk about cycling and injury here, I think you might be able to see how what I say applies to many things in life.
When you are a cyclist, life is often all about the goal. Sometimes the goal is the hill, the time, the stop sign, and for a lucky few, the podium.
Everyone is moving toward something. An objective that rolls around their brain pushing and pulling them past the comfort zone into the suffer.
A friend coaches athletes and his motto is "Train focused." For a long time I thought it was some new-agey bullshit. Kind of like the motivational speeches I've heard from coaches all my life, a purely emotional tug to pull that last ounce of energy from deep inside. I have to admit, that kind of thing can work, but the effects are fleeting.
Recently, I learned what he was actually getting at.
My cycling goals have always been stuff like beating my time on a local hill, staying with the fast group on the club ride, completing a century, riding cyclocross, and similar things that you read about in magazines. Most cyclists have their list of goals and ideas that percolate in their mind when they pull a jersey over their head. Staying focused on the goals is key to completing them.
But sometimes life doesn't go as planned. Recently, I crashed my bike. Hard. In a cycling trifecta, I broke my collarbone, wrist, and back. Leaving the hospital with both arms strapped to my body, pain shooting with every bump in the road, my wife's eyes still red from tears, I couldn't help but think about when I could ride again.
The first week I tried to do as much as possible, fantasizing about how to get back on a trainer or spin bike. And it was impossible. I literally could not feed myself and had to drink meals from a straw. Finally, my wife said, "Your job is to heal. That's it. Leave the rest to us."
At that moment I realized what Training Focused really meant. Knowing what you are trying to do and stop being distracted by all the crazy ideas. My job was to heal. My goal was to recover. Cycling could wait. And in reality, starting back too early would hurt my 'goal'.
Once I accepted my real goal, I could get back into my athlete's mindset and start focusing on doing what was needed to reach my goal. Getting enough sleep, eating right, ice, heat, taking pills on time, and even a little walking. Going in for the weekly x-ray became a event to be won, by focusing on my recovery.
Setting unrealistic plans of getting back on my bike too early, would have done nothing to help me with my real goal of healing. It's easy to be lured into the false goal of trying to be a tough guy that can ride through injury, but in reality, it's the worst thing someone can do.
Know what your goal is. Even when that goal is sitting in a chair wearing an ice pack. Work as hard to podium in the Doctor's office as you would on the road.
Last January 21th marked the first day of the 14th year of Cruftbox. I've been blogging for 13 years now. Clearly, I'm not on top of my day & date blogging lately.
I've talked a little about where my blogging has been in the past, and compared it to social media like Twitter and Facebook. But I'm going to talk about where I think blogging is going next.
First, let me define what I mean by blogging, since, like many terms, it means many things to many people.
Blogging is an individual's thoughts and interpretations on a particular topic, presented in a unified way that creates a fuller picture of the person and their ideas.
Not a perfect description, but close enough for my purposes. Sure there are the occasional group blogs that might qualify, but most could be considered group sharing, not group blogging. Metafilter is a site for group sharing, not blogging. Comments are not blogging.
Many of the popular sites may have their origin in individual weblogs, but have morphed into online magazines, newsletter, and newspapers. Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, and The Drudge Report are all newspapers, virtually indistinguishable from print originated newspapers. Even sites like Daily KOS, Redstate, Talking Points Memo, and Breitbart are almost exactly the same as supermarket tabloids. They focus on gathering information and reporting on the information to their particular narrative for commercial purposes.
Some may quibble about my distinction, but they are the types that quibble about everything in life, so we pay them no mind. ;)
Social Media and your Digital Life
One issue going forward with individual blogging is how it continues in relation to social media, most of which is ephemeral, with an exceedingly short life of relevance.
I enjoy the social services as much as anyone. It's fun to get likes, retweets, and favorites. The majority of stuff posted there is OK to fade away. Your photo of a plate of pancakes captioned as "Noms!" is not going to be something your grandkids are going to frame and hang in the living room.
Social services like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ aren't going away anytime soon, but at some point they will essentially be gone, due to evolution of platforms, trends, and relevance. Don't believe me? How are your usenet posts doing? Maybe your explanations in the AOL forums are still easily accessible? Or your witticisms on MySpace?
But there are things from the social feeds that are special, that you do want to keep, and are important to you. But you need to realize that those things will fade unless you are the one to store them away. And you need to store them somewhere where you have a modicum of control.
I think that part of the future of weblogs is as a scrapbook of sorts for your social media 'moments' that you want to capture and preserve within your own control and outside the remit of ever changing privacy and usage policies.
A few groups are toying around the edges of this, but I think it's going to become more popular to exfiltrate your social media content to your own blog so you are not beholden to others. Thinkup is a start, but more focused on the analytics of social media feeds rather than sorting and storing the nuggets you feel strongly about.
The cost of storage and servers continue to plummet, in most cases far exceeding our ability to create content to fill what's available. Also, the faith in 'the cloud' to store your content as a service you pay for, like you pay for gas, electric, broadband, and water. It would be fairly straightforward to offer a blogging platform that allows you to write traditional posts as well and store whatever you want from your social media feeds.
Talking about this with my friend Greg, he talked about assembling the individual 'atoms' of social media into the large 'molecule' of an event or experience. Being to save and store these molecule outside the volatile they exist now will become de rigueur.
My friend Eric Freeman used to talk about lifestreaming and how we'd end up with a way to keep track of our 'digital life'. Today, most of us in the first world are living a digital life with bits and pieces scattered across the web and Internet. Time for people to take control of their digital life and bring it together in a way they like, rather than the way developers in Silicon Valley like.
Previous 10 entries...Having a 'pro account' for life Jan 9, 2013
Specific things to do in 2013 Jan 1, 2013
Lessons learned from some downtime Dec 2, 2012
Halloween 2012 Nov 1, 2012
Refinishing a bicycle Oct 16, 2012
How to give someone a medal Oct 16, 2012
Eleven Years Sep 11, 2012
Inventing a problem Jun 15, 2012
Hacking a cycling jersey: a hole for earbuds May 15, 2012
Important Skills Apr 30, 2012