Monday, January 1, 2018

Road Trip: Vinyl Fever

My first official act of 2018: made a store run with a vinyl tablecloth frozen to the roof of my car.

I'm betting none of you can say that.

Why? The car's sunroof leaks. I've been using a canvas tarp to cover it when it rains...BUT...if it rains hard or long enough, the canvas gets saturated with water and basically lets it through--and the sunroof leaks anyway.

So I got the vinyl to lay under the tarp. It's got a fleece lining so the vinyl doesn't slip. When I covered the car yesterday, it had already been drizzling. Wet roof, now close to freezing, and now there's a plastic tablecloth frozen to the car.

Stupid thing stayed there all the way to the store and back. I had to pry it loose from the windshield and fold that one little section back, but other than having it flapping like an idiot flag all the way there and back, the tablecloth didn't budge. No way I'm going to try peeling it off. With my luck, it'd take the paint with it.


Looks like the thing's staying frozen until at least tomorrow. It barely broke 33, is already 32 again just at dusk.

Jan. 2: Still there. At least now it's 41F. But at least my interior stayed dry.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Fun With your CPAP...

It's forcing a constant stream of air into your nose.

You quickly learn to close the soft palate at the back of your mouth.

If you don't do that and your mouth is closed, you get a mouthful of air and look like Dizzy Gillespie blowing his horn.

If your mouth is open, the air just comes out there (path of least resistance). This is why people who sleep and/or breathe through their mouth get a different mask from the "elephant" one I got.

Here's the fun: if you know how to play trumpet or other brass instruments, you know how to "buzz" your lips together. With a CPAP, you get infinite sustain on that note!

If you know how to whistle, you don't even have to blow. Just put your lips together and let the ol' Snortmaster 3000 do it for you! Look Out, Roger Whittaker!

It's low pressure air, so you're not going to be very loud.

But the techs who look at your machine's data stream later might tattle to your doctor about you not breathing properly while you sleep.


Something to keep in mind: careful where you put the machine. It "breathes" the same air you do. So if you have it in, say, a bad spot near your bed and you (for example) break wind, that stupid thing will draw it in, filter it, and blow it up your damn nose.

Funny-not funny.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Fujimi's 1:24 Escudo 3-door hardtop.

Suzuki's Escudo is also known as the Vitara, Sidekick, and Geo/Chevy Tracker.

$22.61, free shipping from Japan, via Amazon.

Box was kind of squashed top-to-bottom, but heavily bubble-wrapped. There's plenty of space inside the box, so no damage there.

Molded in bright fire engine red; clear headlights, windows, taillights; satin silver wheels. Rubber tires. 1 small sheet of decals (Suzuki Escudo and Vitara emblems and dashboard).

Looks like an easy build. The plastic's of good quality, not soapy looking.

Very nicely molded--no flash on the body, which is bagged separately from the main parts trees.

Low parts count. All the interior detail is in the dash (radio & other controls and dials), seats, and shifters. But there's no floor or sidewall detail at all. There's a big pit behind the back seat where the fuel tank is. If there was no center console, you'd have a gaping hole over the transmission, as well.

No engine detail. The entire interior and underbody are molded in one piece with separate suspension components.

Can be built as left- or right-hand drive--just a matter of which dash you put in. Thought that was a nice touch.

About the only moving parts are the steering and wheels, which press on with little rubber bushings so the car can roll.

4/5 for lack of engine and interior detail--but only the one point off because I knew what I was getting ahead of time. A few hours with some sheet styrene and felt can take care of the lack of interior detail. Adding something like an engine compartment and opening hood would be much more ambitious than I'm prepared to be.

I do plan to paint it to match my own Tracker, inside and out. Too bad the kit's not a convertible.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Signal Transmitted, Message Received...

Things that are weird:
 --Meeting the first man you called "dad" for the first time in 44 years.

--Learning that your mother up and fucked off to Palm Beach with her boyfriend in 1972, taking the kids and whatever she could carry, while that man--her husband--was attending training in Georgia for Church's Chicken.
...and 2 weeks to the day after the divorce was final, she married Boyfriend.

--learning that she screwed him out of $10,000 by typing her own name into a deed for 40 acres of land deeded by his parents to him.

--learning that you've got a plot of several relatives in the cemetery down the street. One of them is his grandmother. I have a picture of her and my mother, with an infant me in mom's lap. She died the year after I was born.

Turns out my mother was a conniving bitch who sanitized everything pre-1972 out of our lives and cut my adoptive father's parents off.

This isn't really a surprise--well, the conniving part wasn't. She had a hell of a reputation in local Creek Indian  circles. Maybe I'll try to find someone willing to talk dirt up in Atmore. Bad blood with the Poarch Creek folks, something about her and some legal paperwork she did for them.


So. Yeah. He came over from Crestview yesterday and we sat and talked for a couple of hours or so. I showed him pictures and gave him a couple of me around the age he last saw me. I learned that he was a cop from the late 50s till 1995 (aside from those 2 years with Church's Chicken). Drove community transportation for another 21 years.

We have a lot of catching up to do.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

CPAP Elephant.

I've been using one of these for the past 3 weeks. Not nearly as fun as this guy makes it look.

I got saddled with the CPAP thing after a couple of sleep studies showed me having a high rate of anomalies.

I got saddled with the sleep studies because I've been feeling exhausted. My main doc figured I wasn't sleeping enough, or not sleeping right, or whatever. He prescribed Ambien and referred me for the studies.

Screw the Ambien. I'm not having TROUBLE sleeping so much as having trouble maintaining it. Ever since Aorta Day 7 years ago, I sleep at most 3 hours at a time. Maybe I'll go back to sleep in a few hours, maybe in 12 or more. I never know, but once I'm awake I'm wired awake. I went from doing 8-9 hours overnight to "who the hell knows when?"

So. This CPAP thing is supposed to help me sleep better--hold my soft palate open in back.

So far, all it's doing is waking me up after an hour or so feeling like I'm suffocating.

"That's normal," the discussion groups all seem to say. "Stick with it."

"That's normal," the medical company's 'coach' tells me during his weekly call. "Stick with it."

"That's normal," the medical company's respiratory expert told me. "Stick with it."

When I've had all I can take and make it stop breathing at me, the little bastard machine at the other end of that elephant nozzle shows me how long it was forcing air up my snout, then shows me how this session rated against yesterday's. I've got to do a minimum 4 hours in every 24.

There's no slacking or cheating, either. It listens to my every breath and snort, writes everything down, then calls the medical company each day to tell them about it. The medical company makes up a report and sends it to Medicaid.

Nobody likes a tattletale.


I was calling this thing the "Snortmaster 3000" I'm leaning toward "Puffaluffagus." Or "Huffaluffagus." One of them was funny 10 minutes ago.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Message in a Bottle...

Mailed off a card to my...father.

Man, that sounds weird. I've spent most of the last 44 years with an entirely different man in that role. I considered the Old Man my step-father, especially during the times I was on the outs with him over his bigotry.

BUT...I never really thought of Mr. Emery as my real father, either, probably because I barely remembered him. I couldn't tell you what he looked like back in the early 70s.

One of my earliest memories is sitting on his lap and watching "Felix the Cat" on TV.

Him giving me a sip of his beer. I seem to remember puking it back on him.

Toys. There was one day--birthday? Christmas?--when I was sitting on the floor playing with one of the big G.I. Joe guys...I remember SSP/SST racers and a boxed Cox P-40 Warhawk. I don't know if these were gifts or maybe attempted bribes from one angry parent trying to lure my affections away from the other.
My mother married and divorced this guy twice.

Two weeks to the day after the second divorce, she married the Old Man. Husband number four. She was with him longer than the previous three together, so there's that.

I remember crouching in the bushes at the front of that one house, though, holding onto that toy plane still in its box. There was a small white car, I think a 60s BMW with small round taillights.

Couldn't say when that was, other than more than 44 years ago.

Kept the note plain, simple, enough to fill one leaf of a blank greeting card and part of the next. Contact info. The rest is up to him: I don't have a map for the rest of this hike.

[photo by Liana Joseph]

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

What do you say to a father you haven't seen in 44 years?

I was adopted at birth; I never met either of my birth parents...but this isn't about them.

This is about my adoptive mother's 3rd husband. When I was born, the two of them adopted me. I was named for him: Charles Richard Emery, jr. --actually a third, since he's named for HIS father.

I was a Charles until sometime after April 12, 1973, when they divorced. I was about 5-1/2 and only vaguely remember him.

Two weeks later, mom married for the 4th time, to the man I called "Dad" but really thought of as a stepfather. He adopted me in 1974, my birth certificate was changed, and my mother got me to pick a new name.

She scrubbed every bit of Richard out of her life--no photos, no letters, his name, probably even common contacts, family...everything. He wasn't even 40 when we left. Now he's 81, married (to a Diana...Charles and Diana, hahahahaha!), and might even have 4 daughters.

I've known where Richard lives for a couple of years; when I started tracing out family stuff, I looked for him online. A few days ago, I deepened that search and decided to write to him.

 What do I call him?

What the hell do I SAY to him?

"Hi, Dad, long time no see, how's tricks?"

I'm hashing it out...but talk about your uncharted territory.