The Skills of Living

Owning a home is expensive as maintaining a house demands constant effort and expense. On the other hand owning a home is vastly cheaper if you can do many of your own repairs.

The broken drive coupler of a Chamberlain Liftmaster garage door opener
The broken drive coupler of a Chamberlain Liftmaster garage door opener

This comes to mind as I have recently encountered a couple folks who had no idea how to perform simple tasks like jumping a car or very basic household maintenance. Having grown up with tools in-hand this is a concept I have difficulty with. How do you get by? Do you always call a repairman or a tow truck?

One of these people is the tenant of a friend. Since Tom is no longer on island he sometimes asks me to look in on his old house, now a rental, just a few blocks away. A few weeks ago I got a call that the garage door was stuck open. Sure enough a broken belt on the garage door opener, I texted Tom and he arranged for a repairman a couple days later. In the meantime the lady renting did not understand why it did not work despite a drive belt hanging down in the middle of the garage. She had no idea how to even open or close the door without the garage door opener.

Contrasting this are the repairs I have done over this last weekend… Last week our garage door came to a grinding halt partially open. A loud clattering announced it would no longer move.

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A Personal Moment

Lives are often measured by the great events that take place during our short spans of existence. Wars, revolutions, social movements, mark both the great saga of human history as well as our personal stories.

Syringes loaded with SARS-CoV-1 vaccine await use at a vaccination clinic
Syringes loaded with SARS-CoV-2 vaccine await use at a vaccination clinic

The COVID pandemic will certainly be such an event. An event with worldwide impact, so many changes, so many lost.

While the start of the pandemic was slow, the events unfolding over weeks and months, I can mark it’s end as today. At least in a personal sense. Today I received my second dose of the Moderna vaccine, a moment I will likely remember, a moment that forever marks my personal journey.

Receiving the second dose of SARS-CoV-1 vaccine
Receiving the second dose of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine

This pandemic is not done, with me or the world at large. The pandemic will still have impacts, and the deaths continue, years from now when I look back this moment is where I will likely consider it done, at least in a personal sense.

For much the last year Deb and I have lived quietly, marking time, staying home. Re-discovering the small joys in life… Cooking, gardening, spending time under the stars with a telescope.

Time to move on with life. The timing seems even more appropriate in that I start a new job on Monday. I can plan for events more than a few weeks away, even consider some travel further than the shores of this small island.

It may not be over, but in my life, in my mind, it is over.

Greeting a New Year

We are now in the year 2021 by the Gregorian calendar used for much of the world. The celebrations are done, with the scars left by fireworks in our street now fading. We look forward to another year after the the stressful and destructive times of the last twelve months, a year that will loom large in memory for the remainder of our lives.

Point Retreat Lighthouse on the north end of Admiralty Island, Alaska
Point Retreat Lighthouse on the north end of Admiralty Island, Alaska

While the calendar now reads 2021, somehow 2020 seems to drag on. I feel that the remnants of 2020 will not truly be gone until January 20th, and maybe not even then. Perhaps later in the spring when vaccination programs end the viral rampage through our communities.

As we rebuild our lives and try to recover some sense of normality we might look back and try to understand the lessons taught by the year 2020. These lessons are both small and personal or large enough to threaten the foundations of our civilization. We have seen into ourselves and into those around us, the true nature of so much revealed by stress and argument.

Will these lessons be learned? Will things change? While we might be able to change ourselves for the better more easily than we can change our country, both need to be done.

While we plan for the coming year and move forward we rely on experience, something that 2020 was rich in. May you live in interesting times… The old curse that seems so applicable to the moment.

Laboring on Labor Day

The labor day weekend project? Replacing a few more rotten boards in the lanai.

Replacing a few more boards in the lanai
Replacing a few more boards in the lanai

This has been an ongoing project for years, including a few more boards to replace this summer. Over the last few weeks I have replaced half a dozen boards in the lanai.

I write this as I wait for paint to dry. There are three more big gaps in the lanai waiting for new boards. Those boards have been cut to size, drilled, and are almost ready to screw into place. Deb bought me another box of decking screws last time she was in Kona, should have this done shortly.

Unfortunately the original builders scrimped a bit when building the lanai. No paint on the ends of the boards, no paint underneath, and no paint on the joists. Where the lanai is undercover that has not been a problem, where it is exposed to the weather that has resulted in a fair amount of damage.

Unlike the carpenters who did the original work, I am painting each board on all surfaces before installation. I also clean and paint the top edges of the joists underneath while they are exposed. This should slow down the damage due to exposure.

The last challenge is to get the gaps right. Much of the lanai is nicely spaced between the boards. There is a zone where the gaps are all wrong, the boards right against each other. This is also right where the drip line is from the roof and most of the damage is. The result is a lot of careful measurement and ripping the boards to get the gaps looking good again.

I have two or three more boards identified as needing replacement, but not in any great hurry. They can wait for another weekend. Just need to wait for the latest round of paint to dry and I can screw the next three boards into place.

Give Me Enough Rope

Longtime readers will know that our household is ruled by cats. This means that some household chores have higher priority than others. One of the odd chores that has to be done every few years is re-wrapping the scratching pole with rope.

Re-wrapping the cat scratching post with new rope
Re-wrapping the cat scratching post with new rope

Yes, the cats use the pole, usually more than they use other soft surfaces around the house. The result is a shredded mess of sisal fiber hanging from the pole. Eventually it gets bad enough I just cut it away and re-wrap the pole in rope.

Conveniently a 50′ package of 1/2″ rope from the local hardware store neatly does the job. Just an hour spent cutting the old rope away, then wrapping the pole neatly with a drop of glue to secure the end down inside the tube… Done, with happy cats busily clawing away at the fresh rope.

How long will it last?

Life With Cats Gallery

Walking Old-A

Several hours without transportation. My vehicle is in the transmission shop for a checkout, have been having some rough shifts. Stranded for the morning without wheels in the old industrial area I had no intention of sitting in the shop’s waiting area for a few hours.

Old Airport Beach Park Kona
Looking down the old runway at the Old Kona Airport Recreation Area
Just up the coast from the old industrial area is a large beach park. Called Old-A’s or Old Airport, it is the site of the original landing strip just north of town. Abandoned when the jet age rendered this airstrip far too small. The area was used for a while as a drag-strip, the old airport was eventually converted to a park. The old terminal building was renovated into a multi-use pavilion. The old runway is still there, now an enormous parking lot that fronts the rocky shoreline along one side and a community garden on the other.

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2016 A Year in Photos

In retrospect 2016 was not a bad year. I can look back on a collection of photographs that document my life. I am reminded of all the things that occurred in 2016, it is a set of good memories that deserve to be remembered well…

A Photo Review of 2015

Cobbler
Old boots and an older sewing machine in a cobbler’s shop

A review of my favorite photographs of 2015. So many wonderful images, so many memories! It was a very good year for photography with a number of excellent photo opportunities. Opportunities I did not waste. of course living in Hawaiʻi and working atop Mauna Kea often provide a photo or two. Add a trip to Nicaragua allowed a whole new range of photos.

In past eras it was popular to keep a detailed diary of one’s life. While real diaries are rarely kept anymore, blogs and photographs serve much the same purpose. As I have often stated, Darker View is a blog in the original sense, a personal diary of my life. To look back through these photos I relive much of the past year, the good parts anyway.

Click through for the full gallery and click on any photo for a slideshow.

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The 2014 DarkerView Review

In reading my friend Dean Ketelsen’s blog he reminded me that I have not yet assembled my usual year in review blog entry. Darker View is a blog, a web log of my life as blogs were originally invented.

As it is customary to use the new year’s holiday as a reason look back on the previous year I shall do just that. A chance to recall what adventures life has brought us, to remember the little victories, and hopefully not too many failures.

There were 434 blog entries for 2014 detailing a busy year. At least a few folks actually come by to read all of those posts, DarkerView had 69,694 view from 31,607 unique visitors. Looking through the top read posts of 2013 reveals some interesting points…

  1. Astrophotography with the EOS-M
  2. The iOptron ZEQ25
  3. Repairing a Wii Balance Board
  4. A Backyard Telescope Pier
  5. Autoguiding the iOptron ZEQ25 with an SBIG STi
  6. Starscape Photography
  7. Degrees, Arc-Minutes and Arc-Seconds
  8. SBIG ST-i Autoguider
  9. Mauna Kea Claims Another…
  10. Deep Violet, an 18″ f/4.5 Dobsonian
  11. Total Lunar Eclipse 14 April 2014
  12. Rebuilding a 12.5″ f/5 Truss Tube Dobsonian
  13. USB to ST-4 Autoguiding Adapter
  14. Canon EOS-M
  15. Rewiring a Celestron NexStar Telescope
  16. The Hotech CT Laser Collimator
  17. A Red LED Desk Lamp
  18. Shoveling Snow in a Tropical Paradise
  19. Visiting the Summit of Mauna Kea
  20. Elongations, Conjunctions and Oppositions
  21. A Second Try for the EOS-M
  22. Getting Focus Right

It is a surprise just how many of these articles were written before 2014, at least two of these articles are from the old Whitethorn House website, well over a decade old! The telescope making posts make up most of these older, well read articles. It is clear that folks are using DarkerView for reference, finding these old articles in the search engines. Hopefully they are still useful.

Removing the pre-2014 posts from the list dramatically shortens it…

  1. Starscape Photography
  2. Total Lunar Eclipse 14 April 2014
  3. The Hotech CT Laser Collimator
  4. Shoveling Snow in a Tropical Paradise
  5. Visiting the Summit of Mauna Kea
  6. Getting Focus Right

I am not sure that this is good. Is my writing falling off? Or does my older work just have staying power that it continues to serve a use for readers. This will be interesting to watch as I start another year of blogging. DarkerView is here to stay.