Musings of Navigating The Finite remainder of life from Porchville, with the hope of a glimpse of The Infinite

Monday, September 1, 2014

Nifty Cool Tool? Perhaps.

Image Credit: Craftsman.com






So what happens when you mate a yankee drill with a ratchet wrench?  You get yatchet wrench.  Obviously I had better remain retired and not seek employment as the creative genius in a tool advertisement agency.  So what happens when you hand a yatchet to such a creative genius?












You get the:

3/8-IN Drive Ratchet

Registered Trademark: Sears Brands LLC.

Oooooohhhh, the Sears Craftsman MACH Series 3/8-IN Drive Ratchet! I feel a tingling in my nether regions.  It sounds so much more MACHo than a yatchet.  Poor Ernst Mach, once again his name is misused on a product that he has absolutely nothing to do with--he died 98 years ago.   Other examples of this misuse are the Mustang Mach 1, an arguably fast car, and the Gillette MACH3 razor, a device for shaving that apparently can reach velocities of 3 times the speed of sound.  

Ernst Mach 1838-1916
Obviously had little use for the
Gillette Mach3.
Image Credit: Wikipedia
  
Ernst Mach was an Austrian physicist that studied the properties of sound in regards to projectile physics.  He discovered the shock wave (sonic boom) produced when a projectile exceeds the speed of sound.  Mach number is a ratio of an object's speed to the speed of sound.  As such, the Mustang Mach 1 is patently false advertising.  Let's give the Mach 1 the benefit of the doubt and say that it can go 200 mph.  The speed of sound in dry air at 68 degrees F at sea level is 767 mph.  So our 200 mph hour Mustang is actually a Mach 0.261 (200 / 767).  Our Gillette Mach3 has to be traveling at 2301 mph (3 X 767).  How this relates to shaving, I have no idea.  But I think in both cases that they just forgot to add the o turning mach into macho.  BTW (according to the Wikipedia article) take the same razor, change the color of the plastic and packaging and call it Venus, and you can sell it to women. 

So getting back to our yatchet, errrr MACH Series 3/8-IN Drive Ratchet, it is so named because it is fast, 16 times as efficient as their traditional ratchet.  This seems to be based on a 72 teeth resulting in a 5 degree "arch" (I think they meant arc).  So I looked at their run of the mill 3/8 ratchet that is priced at 1/3 the cost and it had 36 teeth resulting in a 10 degree arc.  Smaller arcs allow wrenches of the same length to ratchet in tighter quarters.  So how do we get a 16 X (a whopping 1600%) improvement in efficiency when the handle is actually longer than a standard ratchet, and only has twice the number of teeth?  Well it is efficiency and they haven't really defined what they mean by efficiency.  In one place they say "compared to our traditional ratchet, measuring the distance the handle travels to rotate the socket."  In the sales web page they state:

 "The 72-tooth Mach Series 3/8-Inch Drive Ratchet is built for SPEED turning sockets 16X's Times more efficient than a regular ratchet with a swing arch of 60-degrees."   

I am still mystified by the 16,  60 / 5 is 12.   To get a 60 degree arc you would need a 6 tooth ratchet.  The oldest Craftsman ratchet I have is dated to 1967, it is a 1/4 drive and does not have a release button.  It has 24 teeth.  By my calculations to get a 16 X improvement in efficiency only looking at teeth, the traditional ratchet would have to be a 4.5 tooth ratchet resulting in an 80 degree swing.  Perhaps the traditional ratchet is the one that Sears sold during the Spanish American War?  But I quibble, it is faster.  The question is in my mind, is it three times the cost and much lower torque more efficient?  

Gimbal mounted head.
Image Credit:  Craftsman.com

So here is what this thing does. The head is a standard ratchet mechanism although fine toothed, but it is gimbal mounted.  This allows the head to swivel 270 degrees in relation to the axial center line of the handle.  So you get a high degree of flexibility of the handle position relative to the head.  Where it shines is that you can position the handle directly over the head so that the centerline of the handle matches the center line of the fastener rotation.   This allows you to turn the handle like a standard screwdriver. If the torque goes up, you can swing the handle down ward to pick up some mechanical advantage through the handle behaving like a lever arm.  The second nifty feature is that the handle itself can ratchet in either direction or lock (white icons on the black collar in the image to the left).    And the third cool idea is that shaft and handle is a "yankee drive."  By pushing the handle down and holding the red collar near the head, you get a fast rotation action, one and a half turns of socket rotation per stroke.  The ratchet mechanism in the handle allows the handle to remain fixed in your hand on the return stroke.  They claim the shaft is "expandable."  I am not sure what they mean by that but it appears that you can use the ratchet in a short handled or a long handled configuration.  

Short Handle
Image Credit:  Craftsman.com














Long Handle
Image Credit:  Craftsman.com
Due to the complexity of the helix and ball mechanism in the yankee drive, I would be loath to use this ratchet for anything other than very low torques with the shaft fully retracted into the handle.  I fear that applying torques that would be well within a normal range for a standard ratchet would significantly shorten the life of the yankee drive in this ratchet if not result in outright breakage.    So what! It is guaranteed forever!  Perhaps, but forever is a long time and my prediction is that this wrench is going to have a short life and Sears will  discontinue it.  So if you like the yankee drive action, take care of your wrench, do not use it for anything other than very modest torques.

So yes the wrench is kind of cool and nifty.  But one man's nifty is another man's gimmicky.  Yep it is that too.  It kind of strikes me as cool solution looking for a problem.  Its fast, but not as fast as a drill with a bit driver or an impact gun.  It will deliver torque but not too much torque.  So it is kind of limited to those in-between jobs where you have a need for a lot of rotation but not much torque.    At 50 bucks it is priced a way too high for my budget. But I did get one.  It is on sale for $25 for Labor Day.  That is the price for the ratchet alone, the full mechanics set which includes 20 sockets, and 30 bits and a case is $99.99 on sale for $49.99.   For the most part this thing is a little too gimmicky for my tastes but it just so happens that I have a problem that I think it will work great for.  Rotating my tires.  I have fancy lug nuts that I am loathe to use an impact wrench.  I think this thing will be great for removing and installing those lug nuts.  I will use my 1/2 inch drive breaker bar as usual to un-torque the nuts and this ratchet's yankee drive action to remove them.  Likewise I can install the nuts again with the yankee drive action with this ratchet and slightly torque them using it as a ratchet wrench.  Then I can apply the full torque value with my torque wrench.   OK, I'll admit, I wanted the wrench...it is kind of cool, but if it were not for my lugs nuts, even at 25 bucks, I think this is a pricey gimmick looking for an application.  I hope to be proved wrong.

The wrench is available at Sears and K-Mart retail stores and on line at:

http://www.craftsman.com  




LINKS:

Introducing Craftsman MACH SERIES

Craftsman 3/8-Inch Drive Mach Series Ratchet




Monday, June 9, 2014

Wander-lust

When Dreams are CallingWhen Dreams are Calling by Carol Vorvain
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The description of this novel states that it is based on a true story.  A look at the author's website confirmed that the story is very similar to the author's life.  It reads very much like a memoir, but a very lively and entertaining memoir.  Its pointless to wonder how much is true, but I found myself not reading a fictional character but a very real one.

I doubt that I am in the author's target demographic...I am a 65 year old guy that retired out of a factory.  Other than a 4 year stint in the military and a collection of business trips I have traveled very little.  Rather than taking life by the horns and controlling my destiny, I have always reacted to what life handed me.  At this point in my life, my dreams are more on the order of avoiding yet another hurting joint and staying the hell out of nursing home for as long as possible.  So while Dora's adventures and travels inspired perhaps a little regret that I personally never threw caution to the wind and just lived life to the fullest, I am also old enough and wise enough to realize that there are the adventurous and then there are homebodies...I fall into the latter, as Dorothy said in The Wizard of Oz "there is no place like home."  

That said I am also an old romantic.  I have often used the term that I am in "love with love."  The car rental woman that takes Dora on a tour of Havana, says that of the people of Cuba.  So what I really found interesting in this book was Dora's romantic life.  While her descriptions of her pursuit of "lust" are not explicit, they were frank and to the point.  She shares the erotic excitement of being in a relationship with the "Stallion" but ultimately rejects the notion of being in a relationship for "just sex."  Dora finds that "that something is missing" and that relationships built solely on lust are operating on borrowed time.   Dora wants something more and what she needs and finds is love.  It was this part of Dora's story that I identified with and to the Doras of the world, I would say it works!  I have been with my wife for 39 years and married to her for 37.  That woman has taken me on adventures to realms that have no air service...there is no place like our bedroom.  So along with my dreams of avoiding nursing homes, I have a dream that I am mid-trajectory in the adventure of life as husband and wife, but only taking off as soul-mates.  There is no place like eternity.

So what does an old cranky introverted curmudgeon like me get out of reading a book about a perky, young, vivacious, intelligent woman with both wander and lust? Dora is full of life, lust and love.  She is intelligent, but also wise well beyond her years.  What Dora did for me was to strum my heartstrings for the daughter that I never had.






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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cool Pillow

Image Credit: cafe press




Here is a cool gift idea for the person who has everything.

The Scrotum Thermogram Throw Pillow.

Not only is it a colorful work of art but it is a scientifically factual.  The image is a thermogram,  imagery produced by an infra-red camera.  The colors are produced by the camera's software, and are used to delineate variations in temperature. The red areas are the warmest, and the blue are the coolest.

Typical body temperatures are not conducive to sperm production.  As such the testis are descended in warm blooded mammals, and as this pillow so dramatically illustrates, are a good bit cooler thus ensuring fertility.  Thermograms can be used as a clinical aid in fertility and urology.

Show the world that you are cool, get your Scrotum Thermogram Throw Pillow at cafe press for $24.50.

cafe press, Scrotum Thermogram Throw Pillow   

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Destruction of the Nuclear Stick Family

I know this will come as shock to my steady readers, but yes, I am getting old and cranky.  Excessively cutesy really gets under my skin.   So it was with great delight that I noted this decal on the back of a mini-van yesterday.

Image Credit:  Amazon.com

It nicely capture's my opinion of the propensity to emblazon the rear of mini-vans and SUVs with stick figures, sports participation, and academic brilliance decals and bumper stickers.   It is sort of a polite protest for those of us who are klutzes, not too bright, and hale from or preside over dysfunctional families.  

And for those of us who reside in that region in the bell curve where the clapper hangs, at last, a bumper sticker and front plate for we the dung encrusted masses of the mundane, usual, and mediocre.

Image Credit:   cafe press

And finally a parting story involving a bumper sticker.  My wife and I took one of our cats to the vet.  There was a single car in the parking lot with its headlights on.  It had a bumper sticker “F--- nice people” except the u c k were not dashes.  We went into the waiting room and there was a rather attractive, well dressed, young woman sitting with no animal.  I said to her “At the risk of being seemingly nice, I believe you left your headlights on.”  She politely thanked me and went out and turned off her lights. 


Credits:

Get your decal or sticker at:

T-Rex:  http://www.amazon.com/FIGURE-FAMILY-Delicious-Nobody-Sticker/dp/B00EI6CKVE/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

Aim For Average:  http://www.cafepress.com/mf/56194802/aim-for-average-so-youre-not_bumper-sticker
   

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Create a Caption

Image Credit:  Stacy Innerst, Pittsburgh Post Gazette

We have all seen the ads.  We have all seen the couples lying in their individual bathtubs blissfully staring off into a beautiful sunset.  And we have all wondered, what the hell is with the bathtubs?

Here is your chance to poke a little fun at the tub logo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette Caption Contest. You provide the caption for the cartoon.   The official contest is over but you can still have fun here at Navigating The Finite.

Think of a caption for the cartoon and post it in the comments below.  Alas there are no prizes.

For the real contest and the winning captions, see:

Pittsburgh Post Gazette, April 26, 2014, Caption contest 235 ... and the winners of 234









Image Credits:

Cartoon:  Pittsburgh Post Gazette, April 26, 2014, Caption contest 235 ... and the winners of 234



Monday, March 31, 2014

How To Get Gray Hair and Save Money Doing It



A magnificent tire inflator.
Pay full price with cash in the store.

I always carry a tire inflator in my car.  It is a small 12 volt powered air compressor that plugs into the cigarette lighter plug and will re-inflate a flat tire providing that the leak is small such as a nail.  It can't work miracles, if your tire suffers a blow out from a large puncture or the bead becomes unseated from the rim you are SOL.  But those are relatively rare incidents.  More common is just the lowly nail, and having an inflator has saved me from having to change a tire under less than ideal circumstances.  I simply inflated the tire and then drove to the tire place to get it repaired. 

A couple of years ago the cord on my then inflator went bad.  I had a low tire and was at K-mart so I went in and found a cheap Craftsman unit (K-mart now being in cahoots with Sears)  that I although I was not satisfied with bought anyhow because I had a damn near flat tire in the parking lot and it was on sale for only $22, so what the hell.  It turned out to be the best unit I ever bought.  It is small, but relatively fast compared to my older units that I spent a lot more for and it has a very nice digital tire gauge.  I have been quite pleased with the unit.  Yesterday I saw that K-mart had the unit on sale on the Internet for $19.99.  Normal internet price is $34.99.  So I decide I am going to be a responsible father and buy my son one of these for his car. 

 I do the Internet buy here at home flawlessly. I will pick it up at a K-mart on the way to my son's house.  I wait for the return email to come which took a lot longer than when I have done similar transactions at Sears, but still within 90 minutes I got the Your Package is Ready For Pick-up email.  So I called my son and said hey I want to drop this off.  When is a good time for you?  He says he will stick around if I can bring it now.  He lives 40 minutes from me and the K-mart I selected is on the way to his place...I am smart that way. HA!  OK, I will get it now, see you in hour.  Yeah right.  

So I get to the K-mart but I have no idea where to go to pick it up.  I go to customer service desk which is staffed by one person.  Two women are in line in front of me with bundles of returns.  The service rep is taking care of the customers, answering the phone, and  has an inter-store communicator with a head set that he keeps talking into as problems arise in the store.   So I wait for about 10 minutes.  Finally one of the registers calls him to clear a register, so I catch him enroute and ask him where to pick this up.  At the registers.  Thanks.  

So I have blown 10 minutes.   Two registers are open, so I get in a long line that surprisingly moved fairly quickly.  In front of the registers are these big locked cabinets that scream in bright red THANKS FOR SHOPPING KMART AT THE INTERNET.  YOUR PURCHASE IS HERE!  JUST LOOK ABOUT STUPID YOU DON'T HAVE TO STAND AT CUSTOMER SERVICE FOR 10 MINUTES.  

So I get to the register and hand over my email and the cashier smartly goes up unlocks one of the cabinets and gets my purchase.  There is a receipt print out with the package that has my name and a bar code and the fact that I paid for it on line with my credit card.  I have piece of paper that says the same thing, I have the credit card, and my photo drivers license.  The only thing I could have done better was to have my birth certificate and a passport.  

Yes! It is me picking this up.  Yes! The inflator is available sitting on the checkout counter.  Yes! I am properly identified.  Yes! I have the credit card used to pay for it on-line.  No! Nothing is expired.   Yes! I and the store both have the documentation.  The flesh and blood employees of this store want to give my my tire inflator.  Everything is in order.  The computer, however in its infinite wisdom, will not release the item. Yes he did make this purchase, yes you have it here at the register and yes it is him.  TOO BAD YOU CAN'T RELEASE THIS SALE.   So the cashier, bless her heart tries and tries.  She goes over to the other cashier who knows how to do this.  She is doing it right.  She talks to the guy at customer service on the walky talky.  Yes she is doing it right.  The mood of those behind me in line is souring.  I start to fear for a little for my personal safety.  I am tempted to say screw it, but I have 25 minutes of driving, a gallon of gas, and 20 minutes of waiting already invested in my 15 dollar savings, plus I still have to drive home and a busy son waiting for his kind but somewhat fuddy duddy father to show up with this stupid tire inflator so he can get on with his day.  I soldier on.   

"I can't do this. You have to go to the customer service desk."  So I said OK and I go to grab the inflator.  She says,  "I'll get that."  I said "Oh, that's OK, I'll carry it over, and you can take care of everyone who have been patiently waiting" trying to ingratiate myself to the impatient hordes behind me.   "No you can't, I have to carry it."   I guess they were worried that I was going to dart out of the door with the tire inflator that I paid for on the Internet.  More huffing and aheming in the line behind me as we walk away.  

So now I get back in line at the customer service desk.  The guy is on the phone with a customer that insists that K-Mart should cash their check with an expired photo ID.  On and on it goes.  Meanwhile the guy is taking care of the customer returns.   Finally I get up to the counter.  The paperwork gets scanned yet another 43 times.  I am still me, I still have my photo ID, I still have my credit card, they still have a piece of paper with a barcode that says that this inflator is mine already paid for and I have the same piece of paper...but the computer remains unmoved.  I do not deserve this inflator, and it will not be cajoled into releasing my already paid for inflator into my very present awaiting well identified hands.  The guy says in exasperation, "I can't give you this."  I said very cooly, "There has to be a way."   He said "You're right, you have been very patient."  So, after perusing all the documentation, we agreed to do it the old way.  I signed and dated the email with a note that I received the material, like I did hundreds of times with industrial suppliers in my career of buying things worth hundreds and at times thousands of dollars.  I walked out of the store triumphant with my purchase having only spent 30 minutes, to save 15 dollars.  Fifty cents a minute.  Not bad!   

Now all I have to do is watch my credit card bill.  I should be charged 19.99 plus tax.  I have a sneaking suspicion that I will get a bill for something on the order of $1,668.37 which will account for my original purchase and the other 77 times the bar code was scanned trying to appease the computer.   When I am at my trial for refusing to pay more than $21.39, I hope common sense will prevail that the local K-mart could not possibly have had 78 units in stock.  Perhaps my lawyer will be able to subpoena store security cam footage with me standing in lines for 30 minutes and leaving the store with one small bag. However, I estimate legal fees and court costs will probably be on the order of $5,000 so maybe just paying the bill will be the smart move.   

If I were to repeat this transaction today,  I would go to the bank and get fifty bucks in small denomination bills.  I would then go to the K-mart and pick up this inflator off the counter and walk it to a register.  It would probably cost $39.99 in the store.  I believe 34.99 is the normal internet price.  If the sale went flawlessly, I would give the cashier a 5 dollar tip.  I wished I had done that yesterday.  It would have been so much simpler.  
   

Thursday, March 27, 2014

An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith By Barbara Brown Taylor

An Altar in the World: A Geography of FaithAn Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am a sucker for any book that has the word geography in the title.  I enjoyed this book but ultimately it disappointed me.  It does a very good job of helping people with a crisis of church or religion.  Her lesson seems to be that one should be and do rather than think.  Taylor reminds us that we have a body and the body is Sacred.  She shows us many ways to express one's spirituality by stopping and smelling the roses, fully experiencing life, and performing service to others.  She states, correctly I believe, that one can find God and the Sacred anywhere in the world and in nature.  You don't have be in a church or go off to an ashram.  There are altars throughout the world where you place them.  Inspiration from a beautiful sunset is an altar that is just as spiritually valid as a ritual performed in a church, if you allow yourself to see that Sacredness.  You don't have to discount your own spiritual experience to a religion.  Taylor proceeds to then show how we may find God and the Sacredness of our existence in the aspects of ordinary life...our jobs, family, health, pain, and loss.  Digging for potatoes can be a spiritual exercise in the value of dirt and remembering that we are made of the same.  Hanging underwear and bath towels on a clothes line to dry is flying prayer flags.  "Pain makes theologians of us all."

What I found disappointing in the book was that it did not, for me at least, seem to address a crisis in faith.  Being fed up with church--the rules and regulations, the obsession with sin, the constant promoting of the brand (to enter the kingdom of God you must do _______), the gossip, congregational politics, national organizational politics, the dinners, Bible classes, ad infinitum--is one thing.  Yes!  Chuck it all and go find God in nature and self revelation.  But a crisis in faith, deeply felt doubts about the existence of God and the debilitating suspicion that you have been hand fed a line of BS is something altogether different.  One is not going to look for altars for something that does not exist.

James Fowler wrote Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning, a book that I have, shamefully, attempted to read more than once and set down out of laziness and lack of intellectual discipline.  Fowler describes 7 stages of spiritual development, which you can find a nice summary at Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fowler%2...

M. Scot Peck offered a simpler model in The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace reducing Fowler's 7 stages to 4 based on his own experience.  Peck's description is more compact and easier to understand.  You can find a good abridged version here:

http://factnet.org/stages-spiritual-g...

According to Peck, level 3, skepticism, doubt that may express itself in various degrees of agnosticism or atheism is a necessary stage within spiritual development.  One must suffer a period of doubt or disbelief in God as well as organized religion in order to advance to level 4 that of a mystic.  While I can not vouch for the general truth of this statement, I can vouch that it reflected my spiritual experience--not that I have approached anything close to a mystic,  failed mystic perhaps.

In the abridged version of Peck's stages of faith in the link above we find:


  Despite being scientifically minded, in many cases even atheists, they are on a higher spiritual level than Stage II, being a required stage of growth to enter into Stage IV. The churches age old dilemma: how to bring people from Stage II to Stage IV, without allowing them to enter Stage III.



There in lies the problem for me with An Altar in the World.  Taylor seems to solve the age old dilemma by simply ignoring it.  She wonderfully provides a solution for those who are fed up with the church, but she does not adequately address the problems of those who are fed up with God.  Must we doubt God before we can find Her in a sunset, the flowers of the field, or the joy of hanging wet clothes on a line and see prayer flags?  I am not smart enough or spiritual enough to say.  But I do know that 50 years ago when the church drove me away with its obsession with sin, rules and regulations, showing me a sunset was not going to persuade me that God exists.  I had to have my period of being pissed off at not only the church but God as well.

Perhaps her new book to be published in a few weeks Learning to Walk in the Dark will address a crisis in faith.  





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